New Department of Health Commissioner Mercedes Dullum
New Virgin Islands Police Department Commissioner Henry White
Excepts from Governor John deJongh
The areas of Health Care and Public Safety are two vitally important departments for the residents of the territory and many of you have, no doubt, heard me speak to just how important they are to our communities.
So when it came time to appoint new commissioners for each of these departments we put a great deal of effort into the researching and interviewing process in order to find the best possible candidates to lead us for the coming years.
And I believe we have done just that. We found two very qualified individuals who will not only effectively manage these very important departments today but will also help develop the next generation of leadership within their respective departments so that the Virgin Islands is ready for today and tomorrow.
My nominee for Health Commissioner, Dr. Mercedes Dullum, has been a well-known figure in the Virgin Islands medical community for more than a dozen years. Born and raised in Jamaica, she is a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon, and was named one of the top cardiac surgeons in Washington D.C., where she served as the managing director of a multi-physician, multi-million dollar practice. Once she left her active surgical practice, she continued in the medical field, gaining valuable experience in healthcare administration as a senior official at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic.
Through her work at Cleveland Clinic, she has fought to reverse healthcare disparities here in the Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean. The telemedicine capability at our own Myrah Keating Clinic is but one example of her efforts. Furthermore, she is well-known and well-respected for her leadership in providing education and training opportunities to the Virgin Islands medical community, and has always had a strong focus on quality of care.
Dr. Dullum will focus on addressing the major challenges and opportunities that exist in the Department of Health — ensuring quality, affordable care to those in the territory, continuing the overhaul of our Medicaid system consistent with the President’s health reform legislation, leveraging our federal grants to enhance the territory’s public health delivery system, ensuring the department’s full implementation of health IT to facilitate coordinated patient care, communication between public and private providers, enhance billing for DOH services, and continuing the important work we have begun with the Department of Human Services to enable greater service delivery to clients and beneficiaries of our social programs.
My nominee for Police Commissioner, Henry White, Jr., comes to us with more than thirty years of federal and local law enforcement experience. From his eight years as a Detective and State Investigator in East Orange, New Jersey to his 22 years as an FBI Special Agent, to his tenure as Chief of Police in McDonough, Georgia, Henry has gained the experience and management skills required to lead the VI Police Department at this critical time.
He started out as a street cop in urban New Jersey during the late 1960s, a difficult period in our country’s history, and as a result he understands the very basics of street policing. He worked his way up the chain within the FBI, having worked on some of the most high profile federal task forces where the relationship between federal and local law enforcement was key to success.
Our police commissioner nominee managed civil rights issues for the Bureau, which makes him acutely aware of the issues VIPD currently faces in relation to the Consent Decree. As a former Police Chief, through experience, he has gained a full understanding of managing budgets, human resources and union matters and has experience with the latest techniques and tactics in policing and law enforcement and the continued professional development of our police force. He is well poised to lead the Department in addressing the problems of gun crime and the associated challenges of interdiction, domestic and gang violence, and the other incidents of crime that confront the department daily.
I look forward to their speedy confirmation by the 29th Legislature so that the important work of the Department of Health and the Police Department can advance.