DeSalvo drafted to tackle Ebola

ONC chief operating officer named acting national coordinator
By Tom Sullivan
06:46 AM
Karen DeSalvo, MD

National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, MD, is stepping into a new role within Health and Human Services. She'll focus on Ebola and other public health issues, at HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell's request.

"HHS Secretary Burwell asked National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo to serve as Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, effective immediately," an HHS spokesperson confirmed to Healthcare IT News.

As acting assistant secretary, DeSalvo will be joining HHS Ebola response team and working directly with Burwell on "pressing public health issues," according to the spokesperson.

Prior to becoming national coordinator, DeSalvo was health commissioner for the city of New Orleans. She is widely credited with keeping public health entities operational during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and rebuilding when the storm was over.

The HHS spokesperson also confirmed that ONC Chief Operating Officer Lisa Lewis will serve as the acting national coordinator – adding that “DeSalvo will continue to support the work of ONC while she is at OASH,” referring to Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health.

No word yet on whether Burwell’s plan calls for DeSalvo to return to ONC once the Ebola crisis is under control.