The office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday announced the retirement of Dr. David Scrase from state government.

Scrase, who lives in Placitas, served as secretary of the Human Services Department since the governor took office in 2019, and served as acting secretary of the Department of Health between 2021 and 2022.

“Dr. Scrase has been a valued member of state leadership since the very start of my administration. For many, he was the face of the state’s pandemic response, and his leadership contributed to countless New Mexican lives being saved,” said Lujan Grisham. “What’s more, his work at HSD has benefited hundreds of thousands of low-income New Mexico families, delivering critical supports and services. I am deeply grateful to David for his tireless service to New Mexicans as both secretary of the Human Services Department and acting secretary of the Department of Health, and I wish him all the best.”

Scrase is on leave from the department due to a family emergency, and his final day will be Feb. 24. HSD Deputy Secretary Kari Armijo will serve as interim leader of the department.

“It has been an incredible honor to work for the governor for the past four years, and I am proud of all that we have accomplished together, particularly in managing the COVID pandemic in New Mexico — I feel extremely privileged and cherish the four years working with the outstanding leaders and employees at HSD,” Scrase said. “Likewise, the several years that I spent with the Department of Health and their amazing leaders and staff was another high point in my life.

“In addition to the support and encouragement that I have received from both departments, I have received continual and strong support from members of the Legislature as well, and for that I am very grateful. I have made many lifelong friends and will take wonderful memories into my retirement — And, of course, I could not possibly have endured the challenges of the past four years without the support of my wife Chantel and my family.  I am deeply grateful for everyone with whom I have crossed paths during this time.”

Scrase served as a leader of the state’s COVID-19 response, advising the governor and leading the state Medical Advisory Team. During his tenure as acting secretary of the Department of Health, New Mexico quickly stood up a large-scale testing operation that served as a national model, was among the top states in delivering oral treatments for COVID-19 patients and had one of the country’s highest COVID-19 vaccination rates.

Prior to joining the state, he worked closely with the New Mexico Medicaid program for three years, leading a successful effort to enhance the treatment of Hepatitis C for Medicaid members. He also led an effort to improve quality and reduce hospital readmissions in all New Mexico nursing facilities.

He continued to see patients as a primary care physician for more than 30 years, including throughout his roles in state government.