PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – As the search continues for a permanent director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, Governor Dan McKee has announced a leadership team to support the transition.
“Our administration moved quickly to put in place an experienced leadership team at the Rhode Island Department of Health to ensure our response to COVID-19 remains strong,” McKee said Thursday.
RIDOH’s Medical Director, Dr. James McDonald, has been appointed as Acting Director of Health and will assume the day-to-day responsibilities of the role while the search for a permanent candidate continues.
“I look forward to leading the Rhode Island Department of Health in this interim capacity as we continue the essential work of managing the COVID-19 pandemic and providing the dozens of other vital public health services relied upon. Rhode Islanders,” McDonald said.
“As a team, we will continue to work toward our goal of giving every Rhode Islander and every community an equal chance to be healthy and prosper,” he continued.
McDonald has served as Medical Director and Administrative Director 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 provide day-to-day operational support to McDonald’s and the department in areas including policy, programming and legislative processes.
Previously, she worked at RIDOH for several years as Deputy Director, Education and Outreach Coordinator focused on children’s health issues, and as Minority Health Coordinator, responsible for ensuring that the department was meeting the health needs of racial and ethnic minority communities.
Ernie Almonte, who is currently Chief of Staff to Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, will provide support in managing RIDOH’s finances, budgeting, and other fiscal operations.
Chris Abhulime, who is currently McKee’s Deputy Chief of Staff, will provide operational support to RIDOH.
The news comes after Dr Nicole Alexander-Scott announced earlier this month that she would step down and leave her post by the end of this week.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said she would give more in-depth interviews about his departure in the coming weeks.