- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The director of South Carolina’s health department is stepping down.

Catherine Templeton on Thursday told the board of directors at the Department of Health and Environmental Control that she is leaving the post effective Jan. 12.

Templeton was an attorney in Mount Pleasant when Gov. Nikki Haley made her one of her first Cabinet selections. After her 2010 election, the Republican governor said she picked Templeton to run South Carolina’s labor department because of her legal specialty in fighting labor unions.

Haley chose Templeton for DHEC in 2012, over legislative criticism that she wasn’t qualified for the job.

Templeton told her board Thursday that she promised the governor four years of public service and had fulfilled that commitment. She did not say what she planned to do next.

“I’m looking forward to serving the state from a different position,” Templeton said in remarks released by her office Thursday.

Templeton faced criticism in 2013 after a tuberculosis outbreak at a Greenwood County school. A dozen employees at Ninety-Six Primary School were tested in mid-April, but it wasn’t until late May that students and other faculty were tested. Templeton apologized repeatedly for agency mistakes, primarily not testing children sooner.

Last fall, as concerns about Ebola swirled around the country, Templeton said her agency needed the ability to send simultaneous health alerts to a variety of entities, like hospitals and other health care providers, whose professions might put them on the front lines of identifying a potential outbreak.

The director herself even tested the state’s abilities, showing up at two Charleston hospitals and said she was suffering from the flu, in an attempt to see if hospitals were really ready to tackle identifying an unknown, potentially dangerous outbreak.

Prior to her appointment to the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Templeton worked for more than a decade as an attorney in the Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart labor and employment law firm. She also served as a law clerk to LLR’s director and worked for a time for Milliken & Co. as a human resources manager for facilities in South Carolina and Georgia.

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Kinnard can be reached at https://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP


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