Dr. Hernandez, dead at 84, remembered as public-health leader, especially for women

Funeral services were held Tuesday, July 16, for Dr. Calixto “Carlos” Hernandez, a Cuban refugee who was a leader in Kentucky’s public-health system and commissioner of the state health department from 1984 to 1992. He died Saturday, July 13, at the age of 84, of abdominal cancer.

Hernandez’ s obituary said he was to have been the “head of all health resources” for Fidel Castro until he saw in 1957 that Castro’s revolution would not be what he thought it would be. “The revolution turned out to be the biggest, bitterest disappointment of his life,” his widow, Jacqueline Hernandez, told Kevin Wheatley of The State Journal in Frankfort.

After an internship and residency in Louisville, he ran the Hardin County Health Department, became an American citizen, earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of California, Berkley, and joined the state health department. He was named its commissioner by Gov. Martha Layne Collins and kept the job under Gov. Wallace Wilkinson.

Wheatley reports, “Among his proudest achievements was a program providing mammograms to disadvantaged women, his wife said.

Dudley Conner, who worked as a division director . . . said Carlos Hernandez was interested in women’s health initiatives and also launched programs focused on cervical cancer, preventive medicine and children’s immunizations, to name a few.” Conner said, “He was very compassionate, kind-hearted, would help you do anything that needed to be done. He always was concerned about people and their public health.”

Hernandez never fully retired, working as a medical consultant on Social Security disability cases, his widow told Wheatley. He is also survived by a daughter, Elena Hernandez Page; a son, Carlos Hernandez; and four grandchildren. (Read more)

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