The director of the East Central Health District is taking a long leave of absence, apparently to deal with a personal loss, a member of the Richmond County Board of Health said.
In response to a request for an interview, Dr. Ketty Gonzalez sent an e-mail Friday afternoon announcing she would be taking a leave of absence until July. In the meantime, Coastal Health District Director Diane Weems “will be covering the district during my absence,” Gonzalez said. She also directed inquires to District Deputy Director John Nolan and District Nursing Director Tammy Burdeaux. Gonzalez did not give a reason for the leave in her brief note and her e-mail already says she is out of the office.
She also did not give a reason in the e-mail she sent to the board, member Jack Padgett said. When he asked Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald about it at the annual meeting of the Georgia Public Health Association, she said it was because Gonzalez was still dealing with the death of a son last year.
“In her opinion, (Gonzalez) just had not recovered from her son’s death in the (motorcycle) accident,” Padgett said. “She’s not really talked about it.”
An obituary in The Augusta Chronicle shows Roger Vega II died Jan. 31, 2013, but does not list a cause of death.
Gonzalez has been director of the 13-county district headquartered in Augusta since 2007.