The Department of Health and Human Services is shuffling its decks amid the fight against the Ebola virus.
On Thursday, the agency tapped Karen DeSalvo to become the acting assistant secretary for health, a position that oversees the surgeon general's office — among a long list of others — and plays a heavy role in issues of global health and disaster response.
DeSalvo, currently the HHS's national coordinator for health information technology, told staff Thursday that the switch will allow her "to become part of our Department's team responding to Ebola and work ... on other pressing health issues."
"As you know, I have deep roots and a belief in public health and its critical value in assuring the health of everyone, not only in crisis, but every day, and I am honored to be asked to step in to serve," DeSalvo wrote in the staff email.
DeSalvo will replace Wanda K. Jones, who has served in that role since 2009.
A physician by training, DeSalvo has a long record of experience to draw upon. Before joining the HHS, she served as New Orleans health commissioner; a top policy adviser to New Orleans Mayor Mitchell Landrieu; and professor of medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine, where she was also a dean of health policy.
No stranger to disasters, DeSalvo helped lead the public health response after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.
Her promotion to the new position takes effect immediately.