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Jyothi Gunta to replace retiring Alina Alonso as Palm Beach County health director

County Commission concurs with appointment by Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo
Dr. Jyothi Gunta, left, and Dr. Alina Alsono at Palm Beach County Commission meeting, Dec. 6, 2022
Posted at 10:22 PM, Dec 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-07 08:37:20-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Palm Beach County Commission on Tuesday voted unanimously 7-0 to concur with Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo to appoint Dr. Jyothi Gunta as the director of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County, replacing retiring Dr. Alina Alonso.

Alonso, 66, has been in charge of the department since 2009 and at agency since 1989. She depart on Feb. 28 with Gunta, 42, taking over on March 1.

Gunta, of Wellington, works at Concentra Urgent Care in Delray Beach as medical director. She earlier was employed in the emergency department at West Palm Beach Veterans Affairs.

In 2018, she was appointed chief resident at the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County under Alonso.

"She will make a great new director," Alonso told the board.

Alonso had noted Gunta wondered about "filling her shoes."

But Alonso said: "My comfortable shoes are going with me."

The director, according to to the agency's website, "oversees the operations of one of the largest county health departments in the state. Its 720 plus employees provide a full range of primary and preventive services to seven health centers located throughout Palm Beach County. "

"She will make a great new director," Alonso told the board.

Gunta called it a "great privilege and honor" to be appointed to the role.

"There was a great mentor in Dr. Alonso," she said.

Alonso guided Palm Beach County through the coronavirus pandemic since March 2020 with frequent appearances before the County Commission and news conferences, including presenting data and advice to curb the spread of the virus.

Gunta has a masters degree at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, was a resident physician at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu and went to J. I. Mechnikov State Medical Academy, a public medical school in St. Petersburg.

"Dr. Gunta has an excellent and diverse background in all aspects of public health and has demonstrated her ability as a skilled leader," Ladapo wrote in a letter to Mayor Robert Weinruth. "I believe Dr. Gunta will be an asset to the Florida Department of Health and Palm Beach County as their new health department director."

Also Tuesday, Gov. DeSantis appointed three to the separate Health Care District of Palm Beach County, an independent taxing district.

They are Tracy Caruso, of Delray Beach, the president of Delray Beach Executive Suites; Patrick Rooney, of West Palm Beach, the president of the Palm Beach Kennel Club; and Carlos Vidueira, of West Palm Beach, the vice president of Huizenga Holdings, Inc.