Tarrant public health director resigns after decade-long stint in position

dfwnewsa | February 6, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Tarrant public health director resigns after decade-long stint in position

Vinny Taneja speaks at a Fort Worth Report Candid Conversation event focused on handling of the COVID-19 crisis. (Sandra Sadek | Fort Worth Report)
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Tarrant County’s Director of Public Health, Veerinder “Vinny” Taneja, resigned, officials announced late Feb. 6.  

His resignation is effective immediately and he will be temporarily replaced by Deputy County Administrator Tom Stallings. The county will immediately begin searching for a new director, according to a press release. 

Tarrant County declined to make Stallings available for an interview, and spokesperson Bill Hanna said the county administration has no further comment, as it is a personnel matter.

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Taneja resigned a day after the Star-Telegram reported on a 2022 HR report that described the Tarrant County Public Health Department as “toxic” under his leadership. 

Taneja became director of Tarrant County Public Health in September 2014. Before working in Tarrant County, he served as deputy health officer and acting director of the Wayne County Health Department in Michigan. At Tarrant County, he received an annual salary of $228,440, according to county payroll records.

Taneja led the public health department through the COVID-19 pandemic. He previously spoke at the Fort Worth Report’s Candid Conversation event, where he described public health officials’ role like this: “Translate science into an easy-to-understand language.”

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Commissioner Manny Ramirez said the resignation was surprising, but he’s confident in county administrator Chandler Merritt’s ability to backfill positions and make sure it functions appropriately as the county searches for Taneja’s replacement.

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It’s concerning any time poor morale in a department is brought to light, he said, and always warrants further investigation from county administration to ensure the public health department operates at full capacity.

“I think there are very few core responsibilities that a county is responsible for, and one of them is public health,” Ramirez said. “And so I think that we’ve got to double down and make sure that we truly do have a world-class public health agency that is responsive to the needs of not just the existing public health threats out there, but what could be emerging.”

Ramirez said he’s looking forward to working with whoever is selected to lead the department to make sure Tarrant County is on the cutting edge of public health and prepared with necessary tools in the event of another pandemic or similar health crisis. The Fort Worth Report reached out to Taneja and other members of the Commissioners Court for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.

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At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at emily.wolf@fortworthreport.org or @_wolfemily

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org or via X.

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