Head of CDPHE’s Health Facilities and Emergency Medical Services Division announces retirement

Problem Solvers
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in Glendale. (CDPHE)

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in Glendale. (CDPHE)

DENVER (KDVR) — The state health department leader who oversaw Colorado’s now-suspended ketamine waiver program announced his retirement Wednesday but said he will return to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for part-time work after a short sabbatical.

“It has been one of the greatest honors of my career to be part of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the many dedicated professionals who serve our great state every day,” said Randy Kuykendall in a public health department announcement sent via email. “Thank you to the many colleagues, past and present, who have provided me with guidance, support, and advice as we have navigated the ever-changing waters of both public health and government service. Together we have worked hard, learned much, and served many.”

Kuykendall said he spent more than 17 years at the state health department and plans to finish out his term on the last day of 2021.

The Problem Solvers asked whether he would continue to participate in ketamine-related policy and procedure changes at CDPHE as the health department continues to work to come in compliance with a state law that took effect this summer.

We haven’t received a response yet.

The new law restricts the way paramedics can use ketamine to sedate agitated people outside of a hospital setting. 

In July, the health department suspended the practice in response to the new law.

At the time, Kuykendall said, “CDPHE responded to national concerns about ketamine administration by convening a comprehensive review panel last year, and we will continue to be responsive by removing and restricting ketamine waivers as a result of this legislation. We remain committed to a safe Colorado for all.”

In 2020, the state health department announced that it would be reviewing how the drug was being used, but more than a year later, that review is still incomplete.

FOX31’s coverage of ketamine use:

Leaders react to AG report finding racist police practices, illegal ketamine use, in Aurora
Sedated: The Problem Solvers investigate the new ketamine bill, new research, and another death
Colorado pauses drug waiver program that allowed medics to administer ketamine
Colorado suspends ketamine use on agitated people as new law takes effect
Colorado ketamine bill signed into law, limits police influence on sedative’s use

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