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Pinellas County Commission endorses Dr. Ulyee Choe for Health Department director

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A Clearwater native, Dr. Ulyee Choe, is on his way to becoming Pinellas County’s next Health Department director.

The Board of County Commissioners approved a letter of endorsement for Choe — addressed to the Florida Deputy Secretary for County Health — at their Aug. 4 regular meeting.

Choe, a graduate of Dunedin High School, has a CV worthy of a glance-over:

In 2001, he graduated with a BS in microbiology from the University of Florida. Four years later, he got his doctorate from Nova Southeastern University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. Currently, he serves as the acting director of the Florida Department of Health in Hardee County, and the out-right health director in Polk County. He also holds the position of assistant professor of medicine with the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Disease and International Medicine.

“This will be a great opportunity for me to give back to [the area] where I grew up,” said Choe of his new position.

He’ll be taking over for Dr. Claude Dharamraj, Pinellas County’s Department of Health director since 2006.

Dharamraj joined Pinellas’ Department of Health way back in 1984, starting out as a pediatrician in the clinics before becoming assistant director in 1990.

Over the past couple years, in addition to her regular duties as director, she’s been working closely with Choe to ensure a smooth transfer of authority.

“He’s very capable,” Dharamraj said of Choe.

Choe will come aboard on Sept. 1 and spend a month alongside his predecessor before she hangs up the white coat for good.

Dharamraj’s last day will be no later than Nov. 30. Though, as she reminded county commissioners at the Aug. 4 meeting, she’s got enough back-vacation time to retire a little sooner, should she decide to go that route.

“I didn’t take a lot of time off,” Dharamraj said of her time as Pinellas County’s Health Department director.

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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