Commissioner Daines Appoints Health Department Management Team

ALBANY, April 10, 2007 - New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., announced today new appointments and staff changes for his executive management team to drive a comprehensive health care reform agenda for New York State.

"At the Department of Health, positive change is the operative term," Commissioner Daines said. "Our goal is to improve the health status of all New Yorkers through strong public health efforts and more effective health care." For New York's health care delivery system, Daines said that means "advancing reforms that put the patient first through expansion of health insurance coverage and access to high-quality, cost-effective care. We have a far-reaching agenda for health care reform, and we face many challenges. I am confident that this Department has the expertise, the creativity, and most importantly, the commitment to achieve these goals."

Dr. Daines has appointed the following new executive staff:

  • Jim Clyne as Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Health Systems Management, where he will supervise the State's regulations of health care institutions, including standards of practice and quality of care, and lead the State's work to implement recommendations of the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century, known informally as the Berger Commission.

    Mr. Clyne has been with the law firm Hinman Straub P.C. since 2001, representing health care, non-profit and business clients before the Legislature and the Executive Branch. Before entering the private sector, he spent 20 years on the Program and Counsel staff of the State Assembly in progressively responsible positions, ending as senior adviser to the Assembly Speaker on health care, health insurance and human services issues. He will start April 23.

  • Lori M. Evans as Deputy Commissioner for the new Office of Health Information Technology Transformation, where she will be responsible for leading State and private-sector efforts to improve health care quality, accountability and efficiency through widespread deployment of health information technology.

    Ms. Evans served as a senior adviser to Dr. David Brailer, the nation's first national coordinator for health information technology in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and was responsible for launching landmark initiatives for the certification of health information tools, modernization of health information standards, nationwide information-sharing architectures, and evaluation of new policies for protecting consumer privacy. Most recently, she served as a Managing Director of Manatt Health Solutions, a national health care policy and business advisory division of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, leading the health information technology practice. Additionally, she has held management positions at the eHealth Initiative and CareScience Inc. She has served as a senior consultant with the Permanente Medical Group, as well as a policy analyst and research scientist at the University of California San Francisco and the George Washington University. Her first day at DOH will be May 2.

  • Claudia Hutton as Director of Public Affairs, serving as DOH's chief spokesperson and overseeing DOH's media, marketing and communications efforts. Ms. Hutton has been a state government public information officer for more than 20 years, serving in the Office of the State Comptroller, Division of the Budget, Department of Health, and for the past 11 years at the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. Before her government career, she was an editor for six years at the Springfield (Mass.) Daily News. She will start April 16.

Dr. Daines announced the following staff changes within the Health Department:

  • Wendy Saunders as Chief of Staff in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Department, policy coordination, and strategic planning, responsibilities of the position of executive deputy commissioner. She had been serving as Director of Governmental Affairs and Strategic Planning since February 2007. Before that appointment, she was Director of Government Relations at the New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. She also represented numerous non-profit health and human services organizations at the law firm Malkin & Ross. Her prior public service includes working in legislative offices, including the State Assembly Program and Counsel's Office, State Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried's office, and for the Washington State Senate Committee on Health and Long-Term Care. Ms. Saunders starts her new position today.
  • Robert W. Reed as Deputy Commissioner for Administration. Mr. Reed has been with the Health Department for more than 33 years and has served as Director of the Fiscal Management Group for the past 25 years. In his new position, he will be responsible for fiscal management, budgeting, business operations, financial auditing, central information technology operations and services, vital records and health statistics, human resources, office services, and records access. Mr. Reed starts his new position today.
  • David V. Wollner as the Department of Health's Ombudsman. He will develop recommendations to improve agency responsiveness and serve as a resource on issues when an individual or organization has been unsuccessful in receiving information or answers to questions or issues through routine organizational channels. Mr. Wollner has more than 25 years of state government service, including serving as Director of the Office of Health Systems Management since January 2005. Before joining the Health Department, he spent eight years as Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services in the Executive Chamber and 10 years in senior-level policy positions in the State Senate.

These officials will join Dr. Daines' management staff, which include General Counsel Thomas Conway; Deborah S. Bachrach, Deputy Commissioner of the new Office of Health Insurance Programs and the state's Medicaid Director; and Mark L. Kissinger, Deputy Commissioner of the new Office for Long-Term Care; and the department's public health management team, which includes Guthrie S. Birkhead, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the Center for Community Health and the AIDS Institute; John Morley, M.D., Medical Director; Dale L. Morse, M.D., M.S., Director of the Office of Science and Public Health; Ronald Tramontano, Director of the Center for Environmental Health; and Lawrence S. Sturman, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Wadsworth Center.

Dr. Daines also announced the retirement of Brian J. Wing, who served as Executive Deputy Commissioner during the transition to the Spitzer Administration. "Brian's depth of experience in state government was extremely valuable during the past three months," Dr. Daines said. "His willingness to come back into state service to assist the Health Department and his 'can-do' attitude were appreciated by all Health Department employees, and I owe him special thanks for the advice and assistance he has given me."

Mr. Wing spent his career in progressively responsible positions in state government during the past 30 years. He served as the first Commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance from 1997-2003, Commissioner of the Department of Social Services, and joined DOH in 2005 as Director of the Office of Medicaid Management.

Dr. Daines added, "Over the past few weeks, I have met many of the Health Department staff and have been impressed by their professionalism, work ethic, and commitment to public health. I've seen this throughout the department – administration and office support staff, health care surveillance teams, laboratory researchers, environmental scientists, epidemiologists, health insurance professionals, and community health specialists, to name just a few.

"I look forward to collaborating with my Deputy Commissioners and all Health Department staff to reinvigorate DOH and to strengthen public health efforts and reform New York's health care delivery system to improve the health of all New Yorkers," Dr. Daines said.