Rick Scott continues to round out his administration for his second term and on Monday announced the reappointment of John Armstrong, M.D., as Secretary of the Department of Health and state Surgeon General.
In a press release announcing Armstrong’s reappointment, Scott called Armstrong a “great leader at DOH” who has worked “to support public health goals, link Floridians to needed health care services and educate communities on good health habits.”
Scott also praised Armstrong for taking “every possible step to ensure our state and hospitals were fully prepared to handle any potential Ebola cases.”
His tenure at the Department of Health has not been completely smooth, however. The Florida Senate did not initially confirm Armstrong as secretary. At the time Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, attributed the snub to Armstrong not appearing at a Senate confirmation hearing in 2013.
Armstrong was confirmed by the Senate in 2014.
Then in July 2014 Armstrong wrote a letter to the federal Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency demanding information about unaccompanied children coming into the United States from Mexico.
The Department of Health also has come under fire for its implementation of the state’s limited medical marijuana law with an administrative judge ruling that a proposed rule put forth by the department was invalid.
Armstrong is the fifth health care and social services related secretary to be appointed this month. The governor reappointed Liz Dudek as the Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary and reappointed Barbara Palmer as Secretary of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. He announced that Mike Carroll, who has been serving as interim Department of Children and Families Secretary since April, will be the secretary. Scott appointed Sam Verghese as the Secretary of the Department of Elder Affairs.
Like Scott, Armstrong has a military background and is a former trauma surgeon who rose to the rank of colonel. Armstrong also was an associate professor at the University of South Florida and was a chief medical officer of USF’s Health Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation. He is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Virginia School of Medicine. He completed his fellowship at Jackson Memorial Medical Center.
Armstrong was Scott’s second DOH Secretary. He replaced Dr. Frank Farmer, M.D., who had abruptly resigned in March 2012, saying he wanted to spend more time with his wife and family.
The Department of Health is the state agency that regulates Florida’s health care professionals. Florida Medical Association Executive Vice President Tim Stapleton, issued a statement saying his organization was “thrilled” with the reappointment of Armstrong, who is a long-time member of the FMA.
“Dr. Armstrong’s continued commitment to the health, safety and welfare of all Floridians under Governor Scott’s vision serves as an incredible example not only of his leadership, but also of his understanding of emerging trends in health care policies and emergency preparedness.”