New state health secretary named

Published 3:39 am Saturday, February 15, 2020

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On Wednesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards appointed Louisiana native Dr. Courtney N. Phillips, to lead the Louisiana Department of Health. Phillips returns to LDH after leading health departments in two other states.

In October of 2018, Phillips became the first woman to serve as the executive commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services (HHS). Before joining Texas HHS, Phillips served as the chief executive officer of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and spent 12 years with LDH in a variety of roles. She earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and a Master of Public Administration from Louisiana State University, and a Ph.D. in public policy from Southern University in Baton Rouge.

“Courtney is a proven leader with a can-do attitude and passion for improving health outcomes and making a difference in the lives of others. Her experience as the head of one of the country’s largest health departments is invaluable, and we’re excited to welcome her back to Louisiana to serve as the newest secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health,” Edwards said. “Over the past four years, we have made great strides in expanding access to healthcare, eliminating Hep-C and lowering the HIV rate in our state, and I’m confident that Courtney will continue this progress and advance our mission of improving the quality of life for all Louisianans.”

Phillips will begin her role in April.

As executive commissioner of Texas HHS, Phillips oversaw the largest state agency with more than 40,000 employees, a $78.5 billion operating budget and more than 220 programs, ranging from health care, food safety and benefits to public health tracking and regulation of child care, nursing, and health care facilities.

She spearheaded the creation of Blueprint for a Healthy Texas, a business plan that highlights system-wide initiatives to promote a dynamic shift in the culture of the Texas HHS. As of December of 2019, Blueprint for a Healthy Texas has accomplished 95.4 percent of the 130 deliverables scheduled for completion by the end of December.

“It’s an honor to return home and serve the people of this great state, as the Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health,” Phillips said. “The opportunity to lead the organization in which my career began and ignited my passion for service, is one I do not take lightly. It’s a blessing to be able to make a positive difference in someone’s life, and I’m looking forward to working together with Gov. Edwards to improve the health, safety, and well-being for the people of Louisiana.”

Phillips also worked to reduce maternal mortality and severe pregnancy complications in Texas by teaming up with key stakeholders to create the TexasAIM initiative and provide hospitals with tools and expertise to recognize, diagnose and treat causes of death and complication such as maternal hemorrhage and opioid use.