Governor Conducts Final Interviews for Director of the Department of Health

Rhode Island is on the verge of appointing a new Director for its Department of Health, putting an end to the succession of interim directors that followed the pandemic.

Governor Dan McKee recently made an appearance on WBLQ’s It’s Your Business, hosted by Frank Prosnitz. During the interview, he revealed that he is currently conducting “two or three final interviews” for a certain position. Additionally, he mentioned that he is collaborating with the General Assembly to raise the director’s salary, which currently stands at approximately $150,000, in order to attract more qualified candidates from neighboring states.

“We anticipate being competitive in terms of pricing, with the expectation that this will occur in March,” McKee states. The retirement of Interim Director Utpala Bandy, MD, MPH is imminent, creating a sense of urgency. According to McKee, Bandy is anticipated to retire sometime in the first or second quarter of this year.

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In June of 2022, Bandy assumed the role of interim director, succeeding Dr. James McDonald, who had been serving as interim director since January 2022. He departed to attend to personal matters and relocated to New York, assuming the role of commissioner at the New York State Department of Health.

McDonald assumed the role of interim director following Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott’s departure from the position after a seven-year tenure. Nicole Alexander-Scott has taken on the role of CEO at Nicole Alexander-Scott, LLC. Her focus is on collaborating with national partners to develop strong and thriving communities. In addition to her CEO position, she is a clinical professor at Brown University.

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Scott became a well-known figure on television during the pandemic, a position that McDonald stepped into when he assumed the interim role. According to the governor, the state’s healthcare system is one of the top-ranked in the nation. Rhode Island has been ranked second, just behind Hawaii, according to U.S. News and World Report. Rhode Island has been ranked third by Forbes Advisor.

In his recent State of the State address and budget proposal, McKee highlighted the state’s focus on investing in Rhode Island’s Life Science Hub, which was established last year. He also put forward a bond issue to construct a Life Sciences Building at the University of Rhode Island.

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