Karen DeSalvo Leaving ONC Immediately to Battle Ebola

Karen DeSalvo

As has been much reported, national coordinator for health IT, Karen DeSalvo, M.D., is leaving the office effective immediately to become acting assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services. The announcement was made Oct. 26, 2014, by HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

Burwell requested that DeSalvo to make the move in an effort to help battle and lead to containment of the Ebola crisis. DeSalvo will serve as acting assistant secretary until the Senate confirms an assistant secretary. There is no pending individual nominated for the permanent position.

Lisa Lewis, the ONC’s chief operating officer, now will serve as the acting national coordinator at ONC.

According to Modern Healthcare: HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, in a notice to her staff, welcomed DeSalvo, saying, “As the acting assistant secretary for health, Karen’s experience as a practicing physician, a senior member of the HHS team, and as a nationally recognized leader in public health, will be invaluable to the department and me.”

“She will bring her knowledge and real-world experience to bear on some of the most important issues confronting our department, especially our Ebola response efforts,” Burwell said.

DeSalvo was appointed in December 2013 and started in mid-January 2014. She took over after the departure of former national coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari who stepped down in October 2013.

To date, she’s the shortest serving ONC national coordinator, if she’s leaving the position permanently, which has not been verified.

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