WASHINGTON—The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led by Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Susan Collins, R-Me., Tuesday held a hearing on the nomination of Dr. Alexander Gerard Garza to be Assistant Secretary and Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Homeland Security.
Garza is currently Director of Military Programs at the Washington Hospital Center and a Research Director at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves and served as a public health team chief during Operation Iraqi Freedom I from 2003 to 2004. Garza previously was Associate Medical Director and Medical Director of Emergency Medical Services for the New Mexico and Missouri Health Departments, respectively, and has been an Assistant or Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Georgetown University, the University of New Mexico and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
“Dr. Garza brings significant qualifications relevant to the position of Chief Medical Officer from his time serving in emergency medicine, public health, and as a first responder,” Lieberman said. “The duties of the Chief Medical Officer are essential to the mission of the Department of Homeland Security and to the public health and safety of disaster survivors. Dr. Garza, if he is confirmed, will play a vital role in our nation’s ongoing response to the H1N1 pandemic, which has continued to spread over the summer. That makes it especially important that this position be filled right away and that we move forward with this nomination.”
Collins said: “In the coming months, the Chief Medical Officer will play a critical advisory role as the Secretary leads our nation’s efforts to deal with the H1N1 outbreak. Some experts fear that H1N1 could return in the fall and winter with much higher rates of infection and increased severity of symptoms.”
The position of Chief Medical Officer was formally created by the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act, which was authored by Lieberman and Collins.
Garza’s nomination must still be approved by the Committee before it can go before the full Senate for approval.