Biweekly Briefing Articles

A Life and Career Shaped by Service

Eric McDonald, MD, is retiring this Friday from San Diego County. He will be missed. Dr. McDonald’s career is a testament to compassionate leadership and a sincere commitment to public health.

Dr. McDonald’s life has been shaped by service to our nation and the community. His journey began with a distinguished 24-year career practicing emergency medicine in the U.S. Navy, including two tours in Iraq. We’re fortunate that he then brought his expertise to San Diego County in 2010, holding key positions in Public Health Services and Medical Care Services. He will retire as chief medical officer, a position he recently resumed, after serving for the last year as interim director of the Health and Human Services Agency. As agency director, he oversaw a $3 billion organization with more than 8,000 employees who deliver essential services throughout San Diego County to make people’s lives healthier, safer, and self-sufficient.

Dr. McDonald was successful in all these roles because of his drive to find solutions, especially in a crisis. Whether it was wildfires, flooding, or the COVID-19 pandemic, he improved systems to advance health equity and build partnerships with the goal of better responding to community needs. Dr. McDonald’s focus on connection and consensus is evident in the many relationships he nurtured in the community and within our hospital system.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, we valued working with Dr. McDonald because of his kindness, reasonableness, and willingness to engage in difficult conversations. His ability to navigate complex situations with grace, coupled with expert listening and facilitation skills, earned him deep respect and admiration from colleagues and community members.

As Dr. McDonald steps into retirement, we extend our deepest gratitude for his service and wish him all the best in this new chapter of his life.