The position, which was part of Governor Mills’s 10-point plan to address the opioid problem which she stressed during the campaign, was also featured in her inaugural address. Gordon will report directly to Governor Mills as part of the Office of Innovation and the Future and will be responsible for coordinating and directing the various aspects of Maine’s response to the opioid crisis, including prescriber education and reduction of opioid prescribing, prevention of substance use disorder, interruption of the illegal opioid supply coming into Maine, recognition, and treatment. In doing so he will be working with all agencies and departments of state government which have anything to do with any aspect of the opioid problem.
Gordon’s appointment signals the action-based approach the governor plans to take. “I’ve been on two task forces involving legislators and public safety and the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said the governor. “I’m just tired of talking about it. I really just want to take action.”
“While the opioid epidemic will not be eradicated by any single approach, with a spirited effort and better coordination among Maine’s state government agencies, we can save lives and improve the health of our state,” said Gordon. “I am incredibly thankful to Governor Mills for the opportunity to lead such meaningful work and I look forward to working with her cabinet and community members across the state to get it done.” As part of the announcement, Mills and Smith stated that, within the next two weeks, they plan to release an executive order outlining the immediate steps to address the crisis.
Here at the MMA, feelings were decidedly mixed, with sadness at losing Gordon combining with great pride and hope for his new position. “We wish Gordon well in his service to Governor Mills and the people of Maine,” said Deputy EVP & General Counsel Andrew MacLean. “At the same time, we regret the loss of a trusted colleague and advisor to Maine physicians.” MMA President Robert Schlager, MD, said,“Gordon Smith has always been passionate about finding a worthy cause and then tackling it head on. Coordinating and leading the response to Maine’s opioid crisis is a perfect example of this. I can’t think of anyone that could do it better.”
Because Gordon had planned to retire at the end of 2019, a search had already begun for his replacement. With this new development, Deputy EVP & General Counsel Andrew MacLean has stepped into the role of Interim CEO, and Associate General Counsel Peter Michaud has become General Counsel. Each of these positions is effective February 1st.