Home » Governor Jeff Landry, LDH announce key leadership changes

Governor Jeff Landry, LDH announce key leadership changes

by Minden Press-Herald

Dr. Ralph Abraham transitions to newly created Surgeon General; Undersecretary Michael Harrington named Secretary; Chief of Staff Drew Maranto named Undersecretary

Governor Jeff Landry and the Louisiana Department of Health are announcing key leadership changes with the Governor’s appointment of Secretary Dr. Ralph Abraham to the newly created Office of the Surgeon General, promotion of Undersecretary Michael Harrington to Department Secretary and promotion of Chief of Staff Drew Maranto to Undersecretary.

Surgeon General

Governor Landry made the leadership changes upon signing House Bill 853, which creates the Office of the Surgeon General. The Surgeon General is co-equal with the Secretary within the Department’s organizational chart and is charged with crafting health policy, including healthcare workforce development; advocating for wellness and disease prevention; and coordinating with other state agencies and institutions to improve health outcomes in Louisiana. 

Under the bill, the Surgeon General is appointed by the Governor and must be a licensed and practicing physician in Louisiana. The Surgeon General will absorb the duties of the State Health Officer, making the new position budget-neutral.

Abraham has been a practicing family medicine physician in Richland Parish for more than 30 years and served three terms in Congress, representing Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District. Before earning his Medical Doctor degree from LSU Health Shreveport, he practiced veterinary medicine for 10 years.


The Secretary of the Department of Health is responsible for implementing the Surgeon General’s recommendations, overseeing fiscal matters and ensuring the operations of the Department are carried out efficiently and effectively. Both the Secretary and the Surgeon General report directly to the Governor.

Harrington is a former hospital system executive with more than 25 years of service in both for-profit and not-for-profit health systems. He has a long record of developing innovative systems that engage people with a focus on growing patient safety and prioritizing financial viability. Harrington was previously president of Christus Health Louisiana and president and chief operating officer at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.


Another key leadership change at LDH is the promotion of Chief of Staff Drew Maranto to Undersecretary. In this role, Maranto will oversee the State Medicaid program, as well as eight administrative divisions with departmental responsibilities for budget preparation, financial planning, purchasing, personnel, accounting, data processing and development of strategic and operational plans. 

‘One team and One Louisiana’

Governor Landry said that making key changes within LDH is part of his administration’s strategy of strengthening state agencies and making them more responsive to Louisiana’s needs, while encouraging innovation and efficiency.

“I am confident that Surgeon General Abraham and Secretary Harrington are going to form a dynamic team that puts the health needs of Louisianans first. They will ensure coordination between agencies and institutions as we move our state forward in a coherent unified direction,” Governor Landry said. “It has been a top priority for me to have a doctor oversee health policy and have a talented health executive oversee implementation, which is what we have with Dr. Abraham and Secretary Harrington. I also want to thank Rep. Brach Myers, who carried the bill that made this momentous change possible, and the Legislature for unanimously approving it. We are one team and One Louisiana, focused on ensuring the Louisiana Department of Health is a highly responsive agency that meets the health needs of all Louisianans while safeguarding their safety and welfare.”

“It is an honor to serve as Louisiana’s first Surgeon General, and I am particularly excited about the opportunity it will afford me to help modernize the Department, improve health outcomes, pursue innovative policy and work closely with agencies and institutions throughout Louisiana,” Dr. Abraham said. “This position was created to reverse the prior trend of bureaucrats creating policy and doctors reacting to it, moving us in a unified way forward. This is the culmination of my life’s work dedicated to improving the lives of patients, so I look forward to bringing a doctor’s point of view to health policy and continuing to work toward Governor Landry’s goal of making a stronger, healthier Louisiana.”

“Becoming the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health means overseeing a budget of more than $20 billion and more than 8,000 employees, and I am looking forward to shepherding those resources responsibly and in a way that delivers results for Louisiana,” Harrington said. “Healthcare accounts for nearly 50% of the state budget and impacts nearly every aspect of our economy. The team Governor Landry and I envision puts a doctor in charge of promoting health policy and the Secretary in charge of implementing that vision. I look forward to helping lead a team that is so dedicated to making Louisiana healthier than we found it.”

Deputy Secretary Dr. Pete Croughan previously served in an interim role as State Health Officer. He will continue to serve as Deputy Secretary with the appointment of Dr. Abraham as Surgeon General. Surgeon General Abraham and Secretary Harrington wish to thank Dr. Croughan for his leadership during his interim appointment.

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