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County's top health official to retire, accept new role at UCSD Health

San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency Director Nick Macchione (left) and Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten (right) sit down for an interview with KPBS, June 24, 2021.
Nicholas McVicker
San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency Director Nick Macchione (left) and Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten (right) sit down for an interview with KPBS, June 24, 2021.

Nick Macchione, the director of San Diego County's Health & Human Services Agency, will resign from his position at the county and become chief health officer of community health for UC San Diego Health, it was announced Wednesday.

Macchione, who has worked for the county for 26 years and spent 15 years as the head of the HHSA, will take on the new role June 28.

"As a member of my executive team, Nick will oversee external relationships and lead the implementation of strategic partnerships to help address clinical growth and capacity constraints within our health system," said Patty Maysent, CEO of UCSD Health. "Nick will build relationships that support the growing geographic reach of UC San Diego Health to ensure the broader community has access to our world-class teams and leading-edge therapies."


The move is the latest in a series of shakeups at county government.

After 12 years in the position, Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer was expected to leave in April after announcing her retirement in October 2022. However, at the request of San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas, Robbins-Meyere will stay on as interim CAO for another six months.

Additionally, following the resignation of disgraced County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, the five-member board is down to just four, split along ideological lines.

A special election will be held to replace Fletcher on Aug. 15.

Requests for comment from the county as to its plans to replace Macchione as the top health official in the county were not immediately answered.


Macchione has more than 30 years of clinical and executive experience leading health and human service delivery systems in the New York metropolitan area and in the County of San Diego. At the HHSA, he led an agency with a workforce of nearly 8,000 employees, 350 contracted organizations, 168 citizen advisory boards, and a $3 billion annual budget.

Additionally, he is the architect of the Live Well San Diego vision, a "nationally recognized population health strategy focused on improving individuals' life expectancy and social well-being throughout the county," according to a statement from UCSD Health. He also directed the HHSA as it tackled the COVID-19 pandemic, including its "T3 Strategy," comprised of testing, tracing and treating, which saw San Diego County have some of the highest vaccination rates in the state.

At the university health care system, Macchione will focus on partnerships with community providers and government agencies to improve access to services and address health disparities.

He holds master's degrees from Columbia University and New York University specializing in health care leadership, management and policy, along with a professional certification in health management from Harvard University. He is board certified in health care management and is a fellow with the American College of Healthcare Executives. Macchione was named the 2016 Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine and awarded the Baldridge Foundation's 2018 Harry Hetz Leadership Award.