Orange County’s top public health official is on her way out the door.
Dr. Margaret Bredehoft, who has been the county’s chief of public health services for most of the COVID-19 pandemic, has announced she’s resigning and leaving her job next Friday, Feb. 10.
“It is with both sadness and gratitude that I announce that I am resigning from my role,” Bredehoft said in a mid-January email to colleagues obtained by Voice of OC.
She’s told colleagues she wants to spend more time with her family.
Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the county’s chief medical officer and public health officer, is set to fill Bredehoft’s position until a permanent replacement is found, according to the Health Care Agency.
“The county appreciates and thanks Dr. Bredehoft for her service,” said Supervisor Don Wagner.
“I understand she is moving on to spend more time with family. She has done great work and we will miss her.”
Bredehoft didn’t return a phone call and text message for comment.
Her departure marks another chapter of the Orange County Health Care Agency’s high-profile exits of executive staff.
Dr. Nichole Quick, the former county health officer who issued OC’s mask orders early in the pandemic, quit her job after pressure from anti-mask activists who publicly said her address at a live-streamed county supervisors’ meeting and demonstrated outside her home.
Other top officials left in the early months of the pandemic – then-Director Richard Sanchez and public health director David Souleles.
And abruptly in summer 2021 two more high-level resignations happened: the top homelessness executive Jason Austin, and Marc Muelman, the agency’s chief of operations for public health.
Bredehoft joined the county in August 2020 as deputy director for Public Health Services within the Health Care Agency – jumping to the high-ranking public health position from the private sector where she had directed strategy and business operations at Providence St. Joseph Health.
“I joined the County during an extremely challenging time for public health, and it’s been a privilege to work with incredibly talented public health professionals and a dedicated base of community partners who guided our community through the uncertainty of COVID-19 crisis,” she wrote in her resignation announcement.
During her time at the county, she has overseen much of the pandemic response, including mass testing and the rollout of the county’s glitch-ridden Othena app for booking vaccine appointments.
[Read: OC’s Glitchy Vaccine App ‘Othena’ Quietly Gets Nearly $3 Million Increase]
“Together we overcame great challenges, and we sparked positive changes to strengthen public health,” she wrote.
In 2021, multiple officials and administrators reached out to Voice of OC to express concern that Bredehoft was pushing out longtime experienced managers at the agency and hiring in less qualified people whom they consider to be loyal.
She was investigated by county human resources in 2021 – something officials confirmed in response to a Voice of OC records request for substantiated allegations against Bredehoft related to discriminatory hiring practices, retaliation and hostile workplace.
At the time, county officials wrote the investigation was ongoing and wouldn’t say what they had found. Bredehoft declined to comment at the time.
Voice of OC renewed that request Tuesday, but hasn’t received a formal response.
Bredehoft thanked her colleagues In her resignation message.
“My journey here has been nothing short of amazing and breathtaking to say the least—from serving as incident commander in the most epic pandemic in our lifetime to riding along with our public health nurses as they make rounds providing nursing services in the community,” she said in her email.
She also said the Health Care Agency is being left in good hands.
“As we emerge stronger going into the next normal, I have every confidence in our [Public Health Services] Leadership Team to lead PHS in reaching new dimensions of growth. Thank you for your past and continued support of making Orange County a safe, healthy, and fulfilling place to live, learn, work, and play, today and for generations to come.”
Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at email@example.com.
Start each day informed with our free email newsletter.
And since you’ve made it this far,
You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, with no paywalls and no popups. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But this work not free. It depends on donors like you.
Since you've made it this far,
You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.
Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.