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Wolf’s new DEP secretary is in as health secretary to depart

The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf’s cabinet is undergoing some changes.

In this file photo, state Department of Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy visits Northeastern High School in 2016 to announce the department’s distribution of naloxone, a medication used to block the effects of opioids like heroin and prescription pain medicine, to 128 public schools.

The Senate on Monday confirmed Patrick McDonnell as Wolf’s secretary for environmental protection, while Wolf says his health secretary, Karen Murphy, is leaving the post.

McDonnell has run the Department of Environmental Protection for a year since his predecessor, John Quigley, resigned amid a clash with lawmakers and the natural gas industry over drilling regulations and power plant pollution.

Murphy has steered the Health Department while it writes regulations for Pennsylvania’s newly legalized medical marijuana program.

The program, which is on track to deliver medication to patients by early 2018, will not be delayed by Murphy's departure, according to a department spokeswoman.

Wolf says Murphy also helped improve the regulation of nursing homes and led the implementation of a prescription drug monitoring program, a key element in the administration’s fight against the heroin and prescription drug abuse.

She’s expected to leave the job by early July.