BATON ROUGE— Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Alan Levine announced today the appointment of Clayton Williams to succeed Dr. Rony Francois as assistant secretary for the LDH Office of Public Health. Williams will assume his responsibilities January 18, 2010, when Francois begins a comprehensive, statewide effort to improve Louisiana’s birth outcomes.

As director of the Health Systems Division at the Louisiana Public Health Institute, Williams has had responsibility for leading a wide variety of local and state public health programs over the past eight years. Most recently, he oversaw the $100 million federal Primary Care Access and Stabilization Grant (PCASG), which provides funding for more than 90 primary care and behavioral health clinics in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. 

Under Williams’ leadership, LPHI was recently awarded the Health Care Quality Award by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for its contribution to the unprecedented certification of 40 PCASG clinic sites in the Greater New Orleans region as "patient-centered medical homes."  Williams has also led important post-Katrina efforts, such as convening the Greater New Orleans Health Planning Group, which developed the first comprehensive planning framework for health system rebuilding for greater New Orleans; and overseeing the first rigorous, household survey of 18 parishes most heavily affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Williams has practiced as an emergency medical technician, and holds a bachelors degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and a master of public health from Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans. He is currently working towards his doctorate in health systems management at Tulane. 

"Clayton’s experience with and understanding of how public health integrates with primary care at the community level is critical to moving our vision forward," said Tony Keck, Deputy Secretary at LDH with responsibility for the Office of Public Health.  "As we navigate through times of great uncertainty with national health reform and continuing state budget constraints, Clayton’s leadership will prioritize the health of our citizens above all else."

The Office of Public Health, one of the primary program offices of the Department of Health and Hospitals, is the state’s chief body concerned with the health of the community as a whole, including health education, preventive medicine, sanitation/public hygiene and environmental health. Programs and services include parish health units; adolescent school health and school-based health centers; immunizations; and sanitarian services, including licensing and enforcement of drinking water and sewerage systems, infectious waste treatment and transport, and retail food and restaurant inspections.

OPH is also responsible for state laboratory services; infectious disease investigation, tracking and reporting; and community health and emergency preparedness efforts for man-made or natural disasters such as hurricanes and flu pandemics. The state’s centralized vital-event registry, which collects and analyzes vital statistical data and issues and preserves vital records, such as birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates, also falls under the purview of OPH.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.  

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