The Board of the Department of Health elected a new chairman Thursday, replacing Dr. Luke Lampton, who had his license suspended in May.
Dr. Ed Dalton Barham of Clinton will chair the board, where he has served since 2012. Dr. Thad Waites, a Hattiesburg physician and board member since 2010, was also elected vice chairman.
“It has been a great privilege for me to be a member of the State Board of Health,” said Barham. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in a leadership position, and look forward to working with my colleagues to help promote public health in Mississippi.”
Lampton had served as chairman since 2007. According to the Department of Health, the board reorganization was unrelated to Lampton’s suspension. The suspension was immediately stayed for one year by the Board of Medical Licensure, meaning it won’t take effect if Lampton completes the requirements of the order.
During the board’s strategic planning meeting in April, both Lampton and Dr. J. Edward Hill, the vice-chairman, had suggested stepping down and creating new election rules including term limitations, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Health.
In a statement released Wednesday, Lampton said these “new election rules, including term limitations for board leadership will encourage broader participation by all members in decision making.”
In May, the board of Medical Licensure suspended Lampton’s license after an unrelated investigation uncovered several blank, signed prescriptions for Suboxone, a controlled substance, in a locked drawer in his office.
Lampton’s attorney, Katherine Gilchrist, said Lampton, who was out of town at the time of the raid, had left the prescriptions to be used specifically for pre-established Suboxone patients. Lampton is the only suboxone provider in Magnolia.
Both Lampton and Hill will remain on the board, and Lampton offered strong praise for the department and the board.
“During the last decade, the Mississippi State Department of Health has emerged again as a national leader in public health. It has been an honor to serve my state in this capacity and a joy to work with the excellent staff at the department over the years,” Lampton said in Wednesday’s statement.
The Board of Health is composed of 11 members appointed for staggered terms by the governor. Member duties include providing policy direction for the agency, appointing a State Health Officer, and approving the State Health Plan and all agency rules and regulations.