Biden appoints leaders for VA, Indian Health Services

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President Joe Biden has appointed new leaders from the Veterans Health Administration and Indian Health Services, both of whom have considerable experience in those organizations.

The nominee for Undersecretary of Health at the Veterans Health Administration of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs is Shereef Elnahal, MD, MBA, who served as president and CEO of University Hospital in Newark, NJ, since 2019. Prior to this role, Elnahal served as New Jersey’s 21st Health Commissioner, appointed by Governor Phil Murphy.

Elnahal also served as deputy deputy assistant secretary of health for quality, safety, and value at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from 2016 to 2018, overseeing quality of care for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). He co-founded the VHA Innovation Ecosystem, a program that continues to foster the spread of innovation and best practices that improve veteran care across the country.

Elnahal led University Hospital during the COVID-19 public health emergency and also set up one of the first COVID-19 vaccination sites in New Jersey, vaccinating the state’s first health worker on December 15, 2020.

At University Hospital, Elnahal has applied her knowledge of public health to community programming, including a recently announced partnership with a developer and the NJ Housing and Mortgage Financing Authority to provide supportive housing for homeless patients. ; a hospital-based violence intervention program that served as a national model; and a program that deploys trusted chaplains as community health workers.

“Anyone who has worked with Shereef, myself included, knows that President Biden made the right choice in asking him to serve as Undersecretary of Health for the Veterans Health Administration at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” Governor Murphy said in a statement. “When I asked Shereef to join my administration as our first health commissioner in 2018, it was because of his record of improving transparency and care for our nation’s veterans. in his roles as Commissioner and CEO of University Hospital, Shereef has brought diverse communities together and put equity at the forefront of his work. ensuring University Hospital’s ability to serve everyone in need of care throughout the COVID pandemic has been nothing short of herculean.While I’m sad to see him leave New Jersey, I know the VA and our nation’s veterans will be better off for his expertise and knowledge back in one of the really important positions in the federal government.

President Biden has also appointed Roselyn Tso as Director of Indian Health Service at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Tso, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, began her career with the Indian Health Service (IHS) in 1984. Prior to that, she held various positions at IHS Headquarters and Portland-area IHS. Currently, she is Area Director for the Navajo Area HIS, which provides health services to a user population of over 244,000 American Indians; the Navajo Nation is one of the largest Indian reservations in the United States, made up of more than 25,000 contiguous square miles and three satellite communities, and spans parts of the states of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. In her leadership position, she was responsible for implementing the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act.

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