KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department Director Dr. Rex Archer has announced his retirement.
Archer announced his decision to leave his post during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. His last day will be Aug. 1.
"To me, this is more than a retirement announcement," Archer said. "This is really an introduction, or in some cases a reminder, for everybody that the health department is here and has your back."
He said he had originally intended to retire in December, but "couldn't walk away at that time" due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It’s been an interesting challenge and one of the things that I'd like to actually kind of show here is sometimes you come in to an organization and you leave an organization on a similar theme."
When he started with the department 23 years ago, the city issued a declaration of emergency response related to AIDS. He also has led the department through the 2001 Anthrax attacks and the 2009-19 H1N1 epidemic.
Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said that Archer has built a health department everyone can be proud of. Under Archer's leadership, the department focused on using mental health services to combat violent crime, provide access to healthy meals and more.
"We had lots of long calls and, at times, disagreements [throughout the COVID-19 pandemic], but the thing about Dr. Archer that was nothing short of amazing was that he was always grounding his advice in taking care of the people of Kansas City… [and] how we can make sure we’re doing what’s right based on the science and medical information that came before us."
He has served as the city’s health director since 1998 and has been recognized for his service by the Missouri Public Health Association.
Archer earned his medical degree from the University of Kansas and his general preventive medicine public health residency and master's degree in public health at the University of Michigan.