State health director resigns

Published: Jan. 26, 2011 at 5:36 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 27, 2011 at 12:05 AM HST
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By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Interim State Health Director Neal Palafox, who was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Dec. 18, 2010, is resigning and returning to his position at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine.

Sources tell Hawaii News Now that Palafox is involved in a criminal investigation by state Attorney General David Louie into medical reimbursement fraud.

Janice Okubo, the Department of Health communications director, said Palafox is unaware of any criminal investigation and resigned for personal reasons.

A statement from the governor's office Wednesday said Palafox asked to withdraw his nomination for health director and Abercrombie accepted.

The governor will make a new appointment for the health director as soon as possible.

Palafox was chairman of the Department of Family Practice and Community Health at the UH medical school before being appointed state health director. He has also been on the active medical staff at Wahiawa General Hospital.

For more on Palafox's resignation watch Hawaii News Now beginning at 5 p.m.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.