Chief doctor's medical leave extended to January, department confirms

Dr. Jennifer Russell was originally expected back on the job last month. (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)
Dr. Jennifer Russell was originally expected back on the job last month. (Ed Hunter/CBC - image credit)

New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health will remain on medical leave until January, the Department of Health has confirmed.

Dr. Jennifer Russell told CBC News in late September she was dealing with a "recently diagnosed medical issue" and expected to be back at work in November.

"Dr. Russell is still on leave at this time," Dr. Yves Léger, the acting chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday night in an email.

"With her permission, I'm able to let you know that her medical leave has been extended to January."

In September, Russell said she was "doing well" but required some treatment, then recuperation. No other details have been released.

Russell was the face of the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic for more than two years, holding daily public briefings during much of that period.

Her dealings with the media became sporadic, so much so that another lengthy absence last summer prompted criticism and speculation about whether she had left her position over stress.

Russell publicly commented about that time away from the office, saying she'd taken some much-needed vacation.

"I definitely feel like my job to look after people in New Brunswick was so important that I did need to step away so I could look after myself, so I can look after other people."