The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a new director.

Ken Albert, an executive in the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, is taking over for Dr. Sheila Pinette, who has held the position since 2011.

Pinette will become Maine’s chief health officer, a new position within DHHS that will focus on a variety of public and private health initiatives. Pinette led the Maine CDC during a time when it grappled with an outbreak of Lyme disease and pertussis. The agency has also come under scrutiny for a document-shredding scandal and how it handled an Ebola scare last fall when a Fort Kent nurse who did not have the deadly, contagious disease got into a spat with the agency over quarantine policies. Nurse Kaci Hickox eventually prevailed in the courts, and her defiant bicycle ride in northern Maine made national news.

Albert was director of the Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services where he spearheaded reforms to improve inspections of day care centers after the licensing program was found to be deficient. The reforms greatly increased the number of day care inspectors and eased bureaucratic bottlenecks after reports of abuse at a Lyman day care center and the state’s slow response to the case.

“The Maine Center for Disease Control is headed in an exciting new direction under the capable leadership of Ken Albert,” said Mary Mayhew, health and human services commissioner. “Ken brings decades of managerial, clinical and legal experience to the table and I am grateful to him for stepping up to lead the CDC. I am thankful for Dr. Pinette’s service as director, and I know that she will be a valuable asset in achieving clinical goals across the department as the chief health officer.”

Albert, a lawyer, previously was the emergency services manager at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, health center administrator at CMMC and Lewiston site manager for LifeFlight of Maine, according to a statement from Mayhew to employees.

“At the Maine CDC, Ken will be responsible for analyzing and restructuring Maine’s public health efforts, increasing efficiency, ensuring that measurable goals are in place and that all programs are compliant with established federal and state standards,” Mayhew said in the email to employees. “Pinette will address drug-affected newborns, infant mortality and morbidity, and other pressing public health concerns. In addition, Dr. Pinette will work across the provider community to support the Department’s vision of integrated physical and behavioral health care.”

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