The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 4, 2012

State health secretary resigns cabinet post

By Peter Jackson
The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Eli Avila, who gained notoriety for getting into a dispute over an egg sandwich, stepped down Thursday from Gov. Tom Corbett's Cabinet.

Avila wants to pursue other interests and spend more time with his wife and children, who were unable to relocate and have continued to live in Albany, N.Y., since he took the helm of Health Department in Harrisburg early last year, the governor said in a statement.

Avila supervised the department's 1,700 employees and $1 billion budget.

"Dr. Avila's education and experience has been an asset to the department," Corbett said, citing the secretary's advocacy for keeping children's immunizations current and his efforts to education Pennsylvanians about the spread of the West Nile and other viruses.

Early in his tenure, Avila reportedly got into an argument with a Harrisburg cafe owner over the freshness of an egg sandwich and shouted: "Do you know who I am? I am the secretary of health!"

Avila also paid to have a badge made for himself with the state seal and his job title before the governor's office made him get rid of it, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Avila, 51, who is a physician and an attorney, previously worked as a deputy commissioner of health in Suffolk County, N.Y.

Michael Wolf, the department's current executive deputy secretary, was named as acting secretary until a full-time successor is named.