PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee is announcing today that he has regretfully accepted Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott’s resignation as the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). For the next two weeks, Dr. Alexander-Scott will continue to serve as RIDOH’s Director while the Governor conducts a search for new leadership of the Department.
“Dr. Alexander-Scott has been a steady, calm presence for Rhode Island as we’ve worked together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Dan McKee. “Her leadership has been crucial to our whole of government response – helping Rhode Island become number one in testing nationwide and getting more people vaccinated per capita than nearly any other state in the country.”
“Serving as the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health has been the most rewarding experience of my career,” said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. “I would like to thank all Rhode Islanders for their trust over the past two years as we have navigated this unprecedented public health crisis together. It has been an honor to serve you. I would also like to thank all the healthcare providers and community partners who have supported the work we have been doing at RIDOH since 2015 to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to be healthy, regardless of their ZIP code, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, level of education, or level of income. And finally, I would like to express enormous gratitude to the members of my RIDOH family. They embraced me, taught me, challenged me, picked me up when I was down, and had my back every step of the way.”
To ensure continuity in RIDOH’s work on many public health issues, including COVID-19, Dr. Alexander-Scott will serve as a consultant to the Department for three months following her departure. Dr. Alexander-Scott has served as Director of Health since April 2015. She is one of only five current State health directors across the country to serve as long.
“In addition to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Alexander-Scott has advocated for and secured funding for Rhode Island’s new health laboratory, a legacy that will help improve the health of Rhode Islanders for generations to come and keep our state at the forefront in detecting and preventing future pandemics,” continued Governor Dan McKee. “I thank Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott for her dedication to public health and public service.”
Background on Some of Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott’s Accomplishment’s as RIDOH Director
- Co-leading Rhode Island’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic since 2019, months before Rhode Island had identified its first case. Dr. Alexander’s work helped establish and maintain a COVID-19 testing effort that has been the best in the nation. She contributed to efforts that set an example nationally for getting schools open and kids in the classroom, and she helped steer a vaccination effort that has resulted in some of the highest coverage rates in the country.
- Implementing a new public health vision at RIDOH centered on addressing health disparities and striving for health equity through work on the community level factors that most impact health outcomes. For example, RIDOH’s Health Equity Zone (HEZ) initiative has emerged as a national model for improving health outcomes by bringing community collaboratives – including municipal leaders, residents, businesses, transportation and community planners, law enforcement, and educators – together to address the socioeconomic and environmental determinants of health.
- Co-leading Rhode Island’s response to the drug overdose crisis. Dr. Alexander-Scott partnered with other State and community leaders to vastly expand access to treatment for substance-use disorder, destigmatize substance-use disorder, get naloxone into the hands of people throughout Rhode Island, expand peer recovery supports throughout the state, and set Rhode Island up to open some of the first Harm Reduction Centers in the nation.
- Securing $82 million in funding for a new Rhode Island Center of Excellence for Laboratory Sciences to house RIDOH’s State Health Laboratories, as well as private laboratories that will contribute to Rhode Island’s burgeoning life sciences sector. This new Rhode Island Center of Excellence for Laboratory Sciences will make Rhode Island better prepared for any future epidemic or pandemic with improved public health services, be an economic driver for the state, and foster more collaboration with private industry and academic institutions.