Dr. Paul McGaha – Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Community Health at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (UTHSCT) – will serve as the Smith County Health Authority effective October 1, replacing Dr. Jeffrey Levin, who retired September 30 after serving for six years.

McGaha has served for more than 33 years in public health with a vocational mission to help improve health outcomes in East Texas and to reduce health disparities in the area. He holds a Doctor of Osteopathy medical degree with a specialty in preventive medicine and a Master of Public Health degree.

Prior to joining UTHSCT in 2015, McGaha served for 19 years as the regional medical director for Public Health Regions 4 and 5 (North) of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) in Tyler. From 2012 to 2013, he served as acting assistant commissioner for DSHS.

McGaha joined the UTHSCT team as deputy director in the Northeast Texas Center for Rural Community Health and later was named director. The following year he was named the inaugural chair of UTHSCT’s Department of Community Health in its School of Community and Rural Health where he directs classroom instruction related to social determinants of health and community engagement. He is a Fellow of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and has more than 20 years of experience in occupational medicine.

Established during the 79th Legislative Session, Health Authorities are physicians appointed to administer state and local laws relating to public health within an appointing body’s jurisdiction, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Their duties include establishing, maintaining and enforcing jurisdictional quarantine orders; aiding local health boards or departments in quarantine inspections, disease prevention and suppression efforts; and reporting the presence of contagious or infectious diseases to local and state authorities, among other things.