MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades is taking a leave of absence to have hip replacement surgery.
DHS released a statement saying Rhoades' leave began on Wednesday. She hopes to return by the end of July.
Deputy Secretary Kevin Moore will take over the agency in the interim although Rhoades said she will be involved in decision-making as her recovery allows.
Rhoades joked in the statement that she wanted to take a summer vacation but this wasn't how she planned to do it.
Gov. Scott Walker appointed Rhoades as secretary in February after Dennis Smith resigned to take a job with a Washington law firm. Rhoades had served as deputy secretary under Smith since January 2011. She also served in the state Assembly from 1999 through 2010.
MADISON—Secretary Kitty Rhoades announced that effective Wednesday, June 19, 2013 she will be taking a leave of absence for a hip replacement and recovery time. Today Secretary Rhoades offered the following statement:
“This was an extremely difficult decision for me to make, especially so early in my tenure as Secretary; however, at the urging of my family I have decided not to delay this surgery any longer. I have a wonderful executive team, who will continue to provide strong leadership for the Department of Health Services during my absence. I will be briefed and involved in decision making as my recovery allows. It is my hope to return to my post in Madison by the end of July. I had wanted to take a vacation this summer, but this isn’t exactly how I planned to do it.
As we discussed how we would handle the challenge resulting from my health situation, I was struck again by how lucky the state of Wisconsin is – and how lucky I am – to have such an exceptionally strong group of managers and staff in the Department of Health Services. I appreciate everyone’s encouragement and well wishes and am very much looking forward to returning to the Department pain-free.”