Former Health Department chief Alexander-Scott speaks at Brown University – The Providence Journal

Former Health Department chief Alexander-Scott speaks at Brown University – The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE – Family, faith and lessons from her mother – who rose to leadership in health care despite obstacles including racism – were among the factors sustaining Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott during the nearly two years she led the Rhode Island Department of Health through the COVID-19 pandemic, she said on Saturday.
Appearing for the first time on a Rhode Island stage since she resigned in late January, Alexander-Scott, speaking at a forum during Brown University’s commencement weekend, said:
“You cannot survive if you are not on solid ground, whether it is decision-making regarding vaccination or some other form of leadership that just requires integrity and the ability to be able to stand comfortably on a decision that is not always an easy one. So I certainly build that out of a core that is centered around family and faith as a starting point.”
More: With COVID cases rising, CDC issues new guidance. What Rhode Islanders need to know.
Alexander-Scott credited former Gov. Gina Raimondo and her staff with successfully managing a crisis that punished other states more severely than Rhode Island, as devastating as coronavirus disease has been to the state, especially in the early days, before vaccines had been developed.
“I will always honor and appreciate Gov. Gina Raimondo,” Alexander-Scott said, “her brilliance, her tenacity, her endless energy and ability to really put all those qualities into play. She was almost born for the moment.
“Being able to be on the same team with her and the colleagues that she attracted definitely gave us the encouragements to know that even if we didn’t know what was happening or why we had the tools and the ingredients and the heart to help make sure that we did the best we could with what we had in the decision-making. That was always an encouragement to me.”
The former director did not discuss her relationship with Gov. Dan McKee, who succeeded Raimondo when she left for Washington to become U.S. Commerce Secretary, nor did she relate her reasons for resigning and she declined to discuss them when asked.
More: Central Falls schools bring back mask mandate as COVID cases rise again
Since resigning, Alexander-Scott has served as a consultant to the state, a position that ends on Tuesday. Asked about her future, she told The Journal that she will be a senior executive for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, which represents the public health agencies of every state, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories.
Alexander-Scott spoke Saturday during an hour-long forum, “Leadership in a Crisis: Beyond and Through the Pandemic,” which was moderated by Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and academic dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health.
Ranney described working closely with Alexander-Scott before and during the pandemic, and initiated a discussion about health equity, a hallmark of her tenure, which began in April 2015.
“I have taken to heart the opportunity to be the voice for those that may not have a voice for themselves, the most vulnerable populations, those who are overlooked or disregarded,” Alexander-Scott said.
Ranney also asked the former health department director to spell out the non-pandemic challenges facing Rhode Island, to which Alexander-Scott replied: “Because we so necessarily had to put so much emphasis on COVID for particularly that first year before we had vaccines, we see a lot of folks who are struggling in other ways, whether the decrease in pediatric regular vaccinations of kids, the decrease in other types of preventive care, the skyrocketing rates of opioid overdose.”
Speaking in general of public health, Alexander-Scott said “I truly have seen how necessary it is to have strong leadership across the board at the state level for you to achieve what is needed. At the individual, national and local level, leadership [must] understand the importance of what is done with public health, with public service, with data, with science, with the common good.”

source


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.