Ingham County health leader steps up to replace COVID

MASON – Ingham County’s top health position is changing hands this month as Linda Vail is retiring after leading the department through the worst so far of the pandemic and a new leader steps up.

Dr. Adenike “Nike” Shoyinka, the department’s current medical director, will assume Vail’s role on Feb. 18, according to a county resolution. Shoyinka is board certified in internal medicine, infectious disease, public health and general preventive medicine.

Vail, a trained microbiologist with a background in disease research, was hired as Ingham County’s chief health officer in 2014. She had previously worked as health officer in Kalamazoo County, after a stint as a bioterrorism and emergency preparedness coordinator for the Kalamazoo County Health Department.

When Vail announced her retirement, in a resignation letter in August to give six months for the hiring process, she reflected on her time leading the area’s COVID response.

Vail said she began thinking about retirement before COVID-19 arrived in Michigan in March 2020. Leading the county’s health department, which has nearly 400 employees and a budget of about $55 million, through the pandemic was rewarding but challenging, she said.

Ingham County Chief Medical Officer Linda Vail poses for a portrait at her home in Bath Township in March 2021. "When I need to escape, I play pinochle on the phone."

Shoyinka has been the medical director for the county since summer 2019.

Beyond COVID, she has been involved in bacterial meningitis and gastrointestinal issues that sometimes include Michigan State University’s campus.

Shoyinka also spoke in 2020 about an East Lansing city resolution that declared racism a public health crisis.

“Racism hurts the health of individuals by denying them the opportunity to attain the highest health,” she said at the time. “Racism is a barrier to health. It is a barrier to fair and equal distribution of that health.”

Contact Mike Ellis at or on Twitter @MikeEllis_AIM


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