Anchorage reproductive health officer fired

A sign on a beige wall that says "Anchorage Health Department"
The Reproductive Health Clinic is located at the Anchorage Health Department office on L Street in Anchorage. (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

Another doctor has left Anchorage’s health department. Reproductive Health Officer Dr. Sharon Smith said she was fired without explanation last week.

Smith is the latest of about a half-dozen leaders in the Anchorage Health Department who have left their jobs — either through resignations or firings — since Mayor Dave Bronson took office this summer. 

A health department spokesperson did not answer multiple phone calls or an email about Smith’s departure. The city has not announced a replacement.

In an email to Alaska Public Media, Smith said she received a certified letter about her firing on Nov. 22. 

“There was no explanation, no conversation, just a two sentence letter,” she wrote. “I am disappointed. I have enjoyed the job.”

Earlier this year, the city’s epidemiologist, Janet Johnston, and its longtime medical officer, Bruce Chandler, both resigned.

Currently, the only medical officer listed on the department’s website is Michael Savitt, who is the new chief medical officer under Bronson.

The city has not yet replaced its epidemiologist since Johnston left more than four months ago, but Health Director Joe Gerace told an Assembly committee Tuesday that it had identified a finalist for the job. He said there’s also funding from the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a second epidemiologist and the department is hoping to have someone in that job by Dec. 15.

It’s unclear if the city will fill the now-vacant reproductive health officer position.

Smith’s position was part-time. In an email, Smith said that she oversaw nurse practitioners at the city’s Reproductive Health Clinic, consulted on difficult cases and signed off on protocols for nurses. 

The Reproductive Health Clinic in downtown Anchorage primarily does testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. It also provides affordable birth control to uninsured women, according to Smith. She said she worked there for 15 years. 

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Lex Treinen covers culture, homelessness, politics and corrections for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at

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