PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As the search continues for a permanent director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, Gov. Dan McKee has announced a team of leaders to support the transition.
“Our administration has moved quickly to put an experienced leadership team in place at the Rhode Island Department of Health to ensure that our COVID-19 response remains strong,” McKee said Thursday.
RIDOH Medical Director Dr. James McDonald has been named interim health director and will assume the day-to-day responsibilities of the role while the search for a permanent candidate continues.
“I am looking forward to leading the Rhode Island Department of Health in this interim capacity as we continue the critical work of managing the COVID-19 pandemic and delivering the dozens of other vital public health services on which Rhode Islanders rely,” McDonald said.
“As a team, we will continue to work toward our aim of giving every Rhode Islander and every community an equal opportunity to be healthy and thrive,” he continued.
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McDonald has served as a medical director and the chief administrative officer of the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline since 2012.
The transition team also includes:
Ana Novais, who currently serves as assistant secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, will be providing daily operational support to McDonald and the department in areas such as policy, programming and legislative processes.
She previously worked at RIDOH for several years as deputy director, education and outreach coordinator focusing on children’s health issues, and as the minority health coordinator, was tasked with assuring the department addressed the health needs of racial and ethnic minority communities.
Ernie Almonte, who is Lt. Gov. Sabina Mato’s chief of staff, will provide managerial support on RIDOH finances, budgeting, and other fiscal operations.
Chris Abhulime, who works for McKee as his deputy chief of staff, will provide operational support to RIDOH.
The news comes after Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott announced earlier this month that she’d be resigning, and will step down from her post by the end of this week.
A spokesperson for the Health Department said she will give more extensive interviews on her departure in the coming weeks.