ATLANTA – Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Robyn A. Crittenden and Interim Director of the Division of Family and Children Services Tom Rawlings announced on Friday the hiring of Dr. Priyanka Patel as the department’s new medical director.

As DHS medical director, Patel will advocate for the accessibility and quality of health care services for youth in foster care, teaming up with local caseworkers, physicians and other stakeholders to oversee the standard of care. Patel also will assist the Public Guardianship Office of DHS’ Division of Aging Services (DAS) on cases that require medical review.

Patel was hired following a national search aided by Jackson Healthcare, a national health care staffing agency based in Alpharetta.

“Dr. Patel’s impressive background in both community health and psychiatry make her an excellent choice for this role,” Crittenden said. “She will help advocate for high-quality mental health care for thousands of children in foster care and adults under state guardianship who deserve their best shot at a good life.”

Patel brings into her new role 11 years of professional experience in adult and forensic psychology, administration and community service. Most recently, she served as medical director of the Eye Listen Empowerment Center, a mental health clinic in Snellville, and as staff psychiatrist for other facilities in Michigan and Georgia. She is board certified in both adult and forensic psychiatry, having done her residency and a forensic psychiatry fellowship at Saint Louis University’s Department of Neurology and Psychiatry. She also did a fellowship in advanced psychodynamic psychiatry at the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute, and she earned a master’s in health care administration from Western Kentucky University. 

Jackson Healthcare donated the services of its subsidiary, Jackson Physician Search, to conduct an extensive national search that assisted the Department in recruiting Patel.

“We applaud DHS and Commissioner Crittenden for recognizing the need for a medical voice for foster children and making Dr. Patel’s hiring a priority,” said Jackson Healthcare Chairman and CEO Rick Jackson. “This will help transform the way Georgia cares for our foster children—many of whom have significant medical and psychiatric needs—so we were delighted to be of service.”