Aug. 31, 2007 — The Senate Committee on Rules and Judiciary gave Vivian Ebbesen-Fludd the thumbs up Thursday in Frederiksted, passing her nomination as health commissioner on to the full Senate with a favorable recommendation.
During her testimony, Ebbesen-Fludd said the department could be much more effective in its mission if she can reorganize it more efficiently.
We have the components of a public health system, she said. But we havent put them together.
She singled out the organizational structure of the department.
I can say truly it is a personality chart and not an organizational chart, she said. We have placed programs together under divisions when they have no similarity to one another. In the age of bioterrorism, of bird flu, of national mobilizations and stockpiling of resources, we have to reorganize rationally.
She lay some of the blame for the departments organizational woes to high turnover at the top levels, leading to a tendency for management to avoid changing anything.
The department has suffered from changing-of-the-guard syndrome, she said.
Senate President Usie Richards asked Ebbesen-Fludd if a legislatively mandated cancer registry, collecting demographic and statistical data, was operating as required by law. She said it was not currently operational.
We havent had a document from the Department of Health giving the leading causes of death, numbers of documented births and deaths, for two or three years, Richards said. We need that information not just for your department but for other departments applying for federal grants.
Later in the hearing, she said the registry would be active by the end of the year.
Sen. James Weber III asked her, if she had to pick one, what single criterion should be used to judge her performance at this time next year.
I think the best indicator would be in regards to whether the communitys access to health care has improved, she said.
Ebbesen-Fludd grew up on St Croix; first attending St. Marys Catholic School and later graduating from St. Joseph High School. She received a bachelors in nursing from Creighton University, a Jesuit college in Omaha, Neb., and later a master's from the University of Maryland, qualifying her as a perinatal-neonatal clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
From 1990 to 1995, while in school in Maryland, Ebbesen-Fludd worked in the maternity unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital. During this time, she was an instructor on the faculties of both Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland.
Back on St. Croix, Ebbesen-Fludd has directed the Ingeborg Nesbittt Clinic in Frederiksted since 1995, leaving that position when tapped by Gov. John deJongh Jr. for Commissioner of Health.
Ebbesen-Fludd received considerable praise from some senators during her recent budget testimony before the Senate Finance Committee. (See
"Designated Health Commissioner has Cheering Section at Budget Hearing".
The Virgin Islands Department of Health conducts programs of preventive medicine and enforces all public health statutes for the prevention and suppression of disease and injury. It is responsible for all public health care except for acute, emergency care, which falls under the purview of the territorys two autonomous public hospitals, Roy Lester Schneider on St. Thomas and Juan F. Luis on St. Croix.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.