New Allen County Health Commissioner appointed
For immediate release
Fort Wayne (July 19, 2022) – The Allen County Executive Board of Health on Monday appointed a new health commissioner to lead local efforts to promote and protect public health.
Dr. Thomas Gutwein will take on the health commissioner role today, after approval from the Allen County Board of Commissioners and a unanimous vote from Executive Board of Health members in a meeting Monday. A practicing emergency physician, Dr. Gutwein has almost 30 years of essential health care and leadership experience in northeast Indiana.
He replaces Dr. Matthew Sutter, who was appointed health commissioner in 2020 and helped to helm the Allen County Department of Health through the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sutter announced in April that he would retire from public service.
“I’m very appreciative to the board for appointing me to such an important role,” Gutwein said. “I have always respected the hard work that our Allen County Health Department has done both during and before the pandemic. I think that Drs. Matt Sutter and Deb McMahan, working with Mindy Waldron, have done a great job in making this a healthier community, and I hope that I can use my health care experience to build on their accomplishments.”
Gutwein was selected as the top candidate for Allen County health commissioner by a hiring committee made up of executive board members, Department Administrator Mindy Waldron and a representative from the Allen County Board of Commissioners. Work to develop a transition plan and seek out qualified candidates began when Sutter made his announcement in April.
“I am proud of the collaborative relationship I have enjoyed with Dr. Sutter over a challenging two years, and I look forward to continuing to work toward our important public health mission with Dr. Gutwein,” Waldron said. “Dr. Gutwein is a well-respected physician with all the tools necessary to lead and carry out essential public health services. I have enjoyed working with him in various capacities over the years, and very much look forward to this new partnership.”
Dr. Gutwein earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Indiana University and graduated from the IU School of Medicine in 1990. He is president of Professional Emergency Physicians P.C., a team of emergency physicians and physician’s assistants dedicated to providing quality emergency care to patients in northeast Indiana. Gutwein is director of Emergency Medicine at Parkview Health, where he regularly appears on the website in blog posts and videos on health topics ranging from staying safe in extreme heat and dangerous fake prescription drugs to seeking emergency care for chest pain and safety in times of severe weather.
He is board certified in emergency medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
The health commissioner position is part-time, fulfilling high-level duties for the Health Department. Gutwein will be responsible for decision-making, public education, strategic planning, presentations, department representation, consultation on certain communicable disease actions and overall direction of the department. He will also work with the Department Medical Director Dr. Anna Menze, whose position was added in 2021. The duties of the health commissioner were separated into two roles in the last two years, with the medical director overseeing clinical aspects, and the health commissioner overseeing the bigger-picture duties, which can be done from afar when needed. It is a four-year appointment with the potential for unlimited reappointments. The yearly salary is approximately $51,000 for around 10 hours of work per week.
“Dr. Gutwein clearly has the professional and communication skills necessary to be an effective health commissioner,” Executive Board President Dr. William Pond said. “We’re so pleased to have been able to attract such a talented candidate with excellent qualifications to continue the work done by Dr. Sutter.”