DeSalvo Nominated for Assistant Secretary of HHS

Karen-DeSalvo-officialLast week President Obama announced more administrative posts and among them, Dr. Karen DeSalvo for the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services (ASH). DeSalvo is currently the National Coordinator for ONC and the Acting ASH. If confirmed she will leave ONC for full time as ASH. The Office of the Assistant Secretary of HHS is tasked with “mobilizing leadership in science and prevention for a healthier nation.” It oversees 12 core public health offices including the Office of the Surgeon General, the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, 10 regional health offices across the nation, and 10 Presidential and Secretarial advisory committees.

HHS Secretary Burwell issued this statement to her staff after the announcement.

I am pleased to share the news that earlier today the President nominated our colleague Dr. Karen DeSalvo to be Assistant Secretary for Health.

Karen came to the Department in January of 2014 after serving as the Health Commissioner for the City of New Orleans and Senior Health Policy Advisor to Mayor Mitch Landrieu. In this role, she worked to improve the health and well-being of the community through ensuring an effective healthcare system, and supporting efforts to integrate clinical medicine and public health initiatives. During her tenure, she led a transformation of the health department into a nationally recognized model. Prior to her work with the city, she was Vice Dean for Community Affairs and Health Policy at the Tulane School of Medicine and also on faculty at the Tulane School of Public Health. Throughout her career, Karen has been devoted to improving health outcomes broadly and has focused, in particular, on vulnerable and low resource populations.

As the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology here at HHS, Karen has promoted and expanded the utilization of electronic health records in health care. She led the development of an interoperability roadmap to increase communication between electronic health record systems, while at the same time providing patients more access to their health data while protecting their privacy. She has also sought to harness the power of electronic health records to improve the health care delivery system in the United States and has been an active leader on the Department’s delivery system reform initiatives. Karen more recently served as Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, and has been an integral part of the Department’s work on the response to the Ebola crisis as well.

Karen’s nomination now goes to the Senate for confirmation. As the Senate process moves forward, Karen will serve again as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health. At the same time, as her confirmation is pending, she will continue to serve as the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. Please join me in congratulating Karen, and wishing her the best as the confirmation process begins.

Sylvia M. Burwell