Monday, February 23, 2009

ND nurse to oversee Ryan White HIV/AIDS program

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Observer Update) - President Barack Obama has named a North Dakota nurse and expert on rural health to run the government’s community clinics program.

Mary Wakefield, who started out as a nurse and became a health policy expert, now directs the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota. She will lead the Health Resources and Services Administration, a small agency with an important public health mission.

Known as HRSA, the agency oversees some 7,000 community clinics that serve low-income and uninsured people. It also runs the government’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, providing medical care and medications for 530,000 low-income patients. The recently passed economic stimulus bill gives HRSA $2.5 billion to spend for improvements to health care facilities and training medical professionals.

“Under her leadership we will be able to expand and improve the care provided at the community health centers, which serve millions of uninsured Americans, and address severe provider shortages across the country,” Obama said in a statement.

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