Florida public health officer resigns amid scandal
The Florida Department of Public Health is taking action against a senior health official who is under investigation by the State Attorney General’s office.
The agency is looking into a complaint filed by the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which says the health department is “inappropriate” in its treatment of the case.
The complaint alleges that Dr. John Berdan, a former state epidemiologist, was improperly using his position as a health official to engage in “unlawful and unethical” conduct.
According to the complaint, Berdan is accused of “continuing to knowingly engage in a pattern and practice of misconduct by deliberately failing to report to the Governor’s office certain adverse medical outcomes that he had determined were due to his improper use of state resources.”
The complaint also alleges that Berdan engaged in conduct that included “improper use of his official position to harass, intimidate, threaten, and coerce patients into signing contracts to keep them in the program and/or to not cooperate with the Governor and/ or other law enforcement authorities.”
“We take this matter very seriously and are taking all appropriate steps to hold accountable anyone who may have violated the law,” said Dr. J. Scott Anderson, the acting director of the agency.
“We are conducting an internal investigation to determine if any violations were committed.
Our investigation is currently underway and will likely take several weeks.”
Anderson also said that the agency is continuing to investigate the actions of Berdan and the medical staff he worked for.
“The safety and welfare of our patients and employees are paramount to our mission and it is our intention to ensure all employees are protected from any harm,” he said.
In a statement, Beradan said he has accepted the resignation from his position.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.