Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Lee has confirmed he will be leaving his post in January 2022, ahead of his contracted date of May 2022.
In a statement issued by the Ministry of Health and Wellness Friday, Lee said that just over a month ago he indicated to the ministry that he would leave in January because of his parents’ failing health.
“I have been incredibly honoured and proud to work for the Cayman Islands Government as the Chief Medical Officer,” Lee said. “You’ll be aware that the biggest challenges came from a direction none of us would have imagined. It has not all been about COVID-19; I have also had the chance to consider the health care system of the islands from a strategic position and I will share my views before leaving [the] post.”
News of Lee’s impending departure spread like wildfire Thursday on social media, and came as a shock to many, especially given the recent return of community transmission.
In the statement, Lee said, “although I have tried to support them [his parents] from afar, they really need me there and there is no one else able to help in this family matter.”
As for Cayman, Lee said he was confident that, with the administration of more vaccinations, the community can be protected.
“Cayman has weathered the COVID-19 storm as it raged around us with determination, ingenuity and sheer hard work. We are now highly vaccinated as a community, but I hope those remaining would please consider protecting themselves further with the opportunity that vaccination brings,” he said.
The ministry, in its statement, said, while it does not comment on specific employee matters, “given the public nature of the CMO post and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, [it] feels it [is] important to address the public in this regard”.
Ministry Chief Officer Nellie Pouchie thanked Lee for his “invaluable contributions and hard work” in helping keep Cayman safe from the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020.
“We much appreciate the many sacrifices over the past year and a half, and do wish him and his family continued blessings and good health,” she added.
A formal recruitment process will ensue to fill the post, the statement added.
“A further update will be issued in due course in this regard,” Pouchie said.