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Joxel García
Admiral Joxel García, USPHS
former Assistant Secretary for Health
Born 1962
Place of birth Arecibo, Puerto Rico
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
Years of service 2008–2009
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg Admiral
Commands held Assistant Secretary for Health
United States Public Health Service
Awards Public Health Service Regular Corps Ribbon
Other work Ponce School of Medicine

Joxel García is a Puerto Rican[1][2][3] physician and a former four-star admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. He served as the thirteenth Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from March 13, 2008, to January 20, 2009.[4] He currently serves as the Director of Health in the District of Columbia [5]

Early years and medical preparation

García was born in 1962[6] in Arecibo, Puerto Rico,[7] and raised in Hatillo, Puerto Rico. His father was a dairy farmer and his mother a housewife and a teacher.[8] He was the oldest boy of five children.[9] He completed his pre-medical studies at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), Mayagüez campus. He graduated from the Ponce School of Medicine in 1988.[10] He also received a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Hartford. He did his residency in obstetrics and gynaecology at Mount Sinai Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut, after being trained as an obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Ponce School of Medicine.[8]

Private practice

When he finished his residency, he opened his own practice at St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center in Hartford. Since then, he served in several appointed positions at Mt. Sinai, St. Francis, and the University of Connecticut Health Center.[11] For a while after obtaining his M.D. degree, García served as Assistant Director of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at the Saint Francis Hospital & Medical Center in Hartford.[12]

Connecticut's Commissioner of Public Health

From 1999 to 2003, García was Commissioner of Public Health for the state of Connecticut.[8] During that time, he instituted a bioterrorism preparedness program, launched the national smallpox preparation and vaccination plans, and led Connecticut's response to the anthrax attack. He also created urban health initiatives for disease prevention, and managed improvements in health literacy and economic conditions.[12]

Global public health exposure

From 2003 to 2006, García served as Deputy Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/Regional Office Western Hemisphere for the World Health Organization.[8] As Deputy Director, García was responsible for setting the general direction and strategy of the organization alongside the director and for providing leadership and advice on all policy decisions. He was also responsible for maintaining effective relations between the organization and the governments of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.[8] When appointed to the PAHO position, Secretary of Health Thomas G. Thompson said, "As a leader in his home state of Connecticut and a proud son of Puerto Rico, Dr. Garcia embodies the multilingual, multiethnic face of our hemisphere."[13] The news media reported that "Joxel Garcia, the Puerto Rican physician who won plaudits for his handling of an anthrax scare while serving as state health commissioner in Connecticut, will later this month become deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)."[14]

Corporate experience

Prior to becoming Assistant Secretary of Health, García served as the Senior Vice President and Senior Medical Advisor at MAXIMUS Federal Services Inc.[15] There, García oversaw the work of the MAXIMUS' Center for Global Health and was the principal architect of the strategic partnership plan for the Western Hemisphere. García led several programs at MAXIMUS including emergency preparedness and disaster relief.[12]

U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health

García was nominated for appointment by President George W. Bush for the position of Assistant Secretary for Health with the rank of admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps in late 2007. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 14, 2008, becoming the first Puerto Rican to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health.[8] As the Assistant Secretary for Health, García was the primary advisor to the Secretary of Health on matters involving the nation's public health system and health science. He also oversaw the U.S. Public Health Service and its Commissioned Corps for the Secretary of Health. In his position, García's responsibilities included disease prevention, health promotion, public health preparedness, women's and minority health, reduction of health disparities, fight against HIV/AIDS, pandemic influenza planning, and vaccine preventable diseases. García's experience in public health encompassed health care delivery, bioterrorism preparedness, health policy, and international health affairs.[12]

President and Dean of PSM

On April 1, 2009, García was named President and Dean of the Ponce School of Medicine. On his inaugural speech he said, "All the things I have mentioned here are not dreams but things that I am already working on, things that are happening, and will continue to evolve".[16] He feels that Puerto Rico could be a regional medical training center.[17]


García has served on a number of national boards, including the National Advisory Committee on Violence against Women, National Dialogue on Cancer, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, and as the president-elect of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.[12]

García is said to have seen his role as Assistant Secretary for Health as an opportunity to enhance the Secretary's efforts to further the mission of Health and Human Services and the health of the nation by building, strengthening and leveraging relationships across the public health community and the US Public Health Service while also improving healthcare for all Americans.[18]

Personal and family life

García resided in Avon, Connecticut.[19] He has two children.[11][20][21]

See also

  • List of famous Puerto Ricans – Military
  • University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez people


External links

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