Cast of Characters
Mary Wakefield Picked as HRSA Chief
By Philip Rucker
President Obama may not have a health department secretary, but he is moving to fill out his team of health care advisers. Today he appointed a leading expert in rural health care to become administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency that oversees programs that bring health care to uninsured people, particularly in underserved areas of the country.
Mary Wakefield, a nurse who most recently directed the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota, will run HRSA, which oversees community health centers across the nation. She will help implement the economic stimulus bill, as the agency will administer $2.5 billion to invest in health care infrastructure and train health care professionals.
"As a nurse, a Ph.D., and a leading rural healthcare advocate, Mary Wakefield brings expertise that will be instrumental in expanding and improving services for those who are currently uninsured or underserved," President Obama said in a statement. "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."
Wakefield is regarded as an expert in rural health care, patient safety, Medicare payment policy, workforce issues and public policy, according to the White House. She previously served as director of the Center for Health Policy, Research and Ethics at George Mason University in Northern Virginia and has been chief of staff to two Democratic senators from Nebraska.
Wakefield, who has served on several health care commissions and advisory boards and received numerous awards, received a master's degree in nursing and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin, as well as a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Mary at Bismark, N.D.
Posted at 4:21 PM ET on Feb 20, 2009
Cast of Characters
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