Dr. Michelle S. Davis was officially sworn in as the territory's Health Commissioner at a ceremony on Friday at Government House. The oath of office was administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice Rhys S. Hodge.
Governor Kenneth E. Mapp said that Dr. Davis, an epidemiologist by training, has an exceptional medical and administrative background, particularly suited to addressing the territory's current challenges in managing the Zika virus and new efforts to prevent, rather than treat, many chronic illnesses.
"I thank you and I am honored that you would join us," the Governor said.
Governor Mapp said he was calling on Commissioner Davis to assist in developing territorial wellness initiatives to help address preventable illness, lower health insurance costs and improve our overall quality of life. He said the Government's health insurance premiums continue to rise due to a high incidence of chronic, and often preventable, illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension.
"It's not sustainable and not good for our community," he said.
Dr. Davis will serve as Health Commissioner for two years under an agreement with the federal government. Governor Mapp anticipates the partnership will be very beneficial to the Virgin Islands, particularly in the area of efficient and effective use of federal funds. Even prior to assuming her post, Dr. Davis assumed a leadership role in combating the Zika virus locally and her experience in the matter of disease control and prevention is invaluable, Governor Mapp said.
Dr. Davis stands ready to address the territory's healthcare challenges.
"I look forward to working with everyone to improve the health of the people of the Virgin Islands," she said.
Dr. Davis is on loan to the territory from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. She was formally nominated by Governor Kenneth E. Mapp to serve as Virgin Islands Commissioner of Health in March and confirmed by the 31st Legislature earlier this summer.
Dr. Davis has worked as a public health professional in a variety of positions at the federal, state and municipal levels. This included the Deputy Secretary for Health for the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Before working with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania she held positions as Deputy Health Commissioner for Policy and Planning with the City of Philadelphia and Senior Epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has also held positions with the states of South Carolina, Indiana and New York and at the local level with the City of Detroit and with the District of Columbia as a CDC federal assignee.
Dr. Davis completed her undergraduate studies in biology at the University of Michigan. She continued her education at the University of South Carolina, Johns Hopkins and the University of North Carolina, where she completed her graduate studies in epidemiology.