County OKs new health officer; Moorman retires

For the first time in more than three decades, the county has a new health leader.

The Johnson County Board of Commissioners approved the hiring of Dr. Jefferson Qualls as the new health officer during a special meeting Monday. The Johnson County Board of Health selected Qualls for the role after Dr. Craig Moorman announced his retirement. Moorman was the county’s health officer for 32 years.

Moorman, a pediatrician with four decades of experience, retired from Johnson Memorial Health last December, but continued as the county health officer due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qualls has nearly 30 years of family medicine experience. The Bargersville resident has practiced in Johnson County for most of his career, including 22 years with American Health Network and seven years in the emergency room at Johnson Memorial Hospital. For part of his time at Johnson Memorial, he also was the hospital’s EMS director.

He retired from the hospital more than a year ago, but it lasted all of three months before he came back to work with St. Vincent Emergency Physicians. In his new role, he works as a hospitalist or ER director for several small county hospitals in central Indiana, akin to medical freelancing.

Qualls has also been the county’s chief deputy coroner since January, when he was tapped to serve with Johnson County Coroner Mike Pruitt, who took office this year.

Now, as chief executive of the Johnson County Health Department, he is looking forward to serving a community he has loved for 30 years, he said.

“It is my goal to improve the health of every resident of this county,” Qualls said.

With 46% of the county’s eligible population vaccinated, he is considering ways to get more people vaccinated locally, and is looking forward to guiding the department back to more normal operations.

“I’m still sorting out the goals and objectives at this point,” Qualls said. “The main thing is to finish strong with COVID, and by that I mean promoting the vaccine.”

Moorman gave his blessing to Qualls and has been showing him the ropes to ease the transition. Between Qualls’ expertise and the existing staff, Moorman knows the department will be in good hands, he said.

Qualls got straight to work after the meeting Monday.

“I want to tip my hat to Dr. Craig Moorman … Those are big shoes to fill,” Qualls said. “I’ll do my best to serve in this role.”


Moorman, 70, was wanting to retire for a while, but waited until the pandemic began to wane before he stepped back, he said.

“I love my community. I think it has been a real honor to serve my community as a pediatrician and a health officer for 41 years,” Moorman said.

When he took on the role 32 years ago, he never envisioned serving this long, but stayed on because the role was challenging and fun, he said.

Throughout the years, he strived to be proactive, always thinking about next steps as it pertains to public health, Moorman said.

The best parts of the job were relationships and overseeing the little known tasks that quietly kept county residents healthy, he said.

“It is kind of a quiet business that a lot of people take for granted, but it is important work,” Moorman said.

In retirement, Moorman plans to stick around, spending time with his family and volunteering.

Department staff are sad to see Moorman go, but they are looking forward to working with Qualls, said Betsy Swearingen, health department director.

“It is a change for everyone and we look forward to good things to come,” Swearingen said. “We are lucky to have him.”