Another Georgian has been selected to help lead a major component in the nation’s healthcare sector. Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald has been selected to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She had been serving as commissioner at the Georgia Department of Public Health. She follows Tom Price, the Georgia congressman who was named to Trump’s Cabinet as head of Health and Human Services.
Media release: Following President Trump’s appointment of Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gov. Nathan Deal on Friday named J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D., as interim commissioner at the Georgia Department of Public Health. Prior to this role, which takes effect immediately, Dr. O’Neal served as the director of health protection at DPH.
“I’m proud of my friend and colleague Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, and I am grateful for tireless efforts in promoting the health and well-being of Georgians,” said Deal. “As commissioner, she’s been an asset to our state and an advocate for our citizens. I’m certain she will bring those same qualities to the CDC and lead the federal agency skillfully. I’m confident that Dr. O’Neal’s extensive experience, vast medical knowledge and strong leadership capabilities will allow for a seamless transition. As interim commissioner, Dr. O’Neal will continue promoting the critical work performed by DPH employees, advancing programs throughout the state and collaborating with Georgia’s 159 county health departments and 18 public health districts. I wish Drs. Fitzgerald and O’Neal great success in their new roles and endeavors.”
Said Fitzgerald: “I am humbled by the challenges that lie ahead, yet I am confident that the successes we’ve had in Georgia will provide me with a foundation for guiding the work of the CDC. The progress we’ve made in Georgia around early brain development, childhood obesity and creating a model for addressing life-threatening epidemics would not have been possible without the full support of Governor Deal and a dedicated public health staff. I look forward to the continued good work of DPH under Dr. O’Neal’s leadership.”
Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D.
Fitzgerald formerly served as the commissioner of DPH and as State Health Officer. She is a board-certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist and practiced medicine for more than three decades before coming to Public Health in 2011. As Commissioner, Fitzgerald oversaw various state public health programs including Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Health Protection, Georgia WIC, Office of Pharmacy, Nursing, Volunteer Health Care and Vital Records. She also directed the state’s 18 public health districts. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology from Georgia State University and a medical degree from the Emory University School of Medicine. As a Major in the United States Air Force, Fitzgerald served at the Wurtsmith Air Force Strategic Air Command Base in Michigan and at the Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.
J. Patrick O’Neal, M.D.
O’Neal serves as the Director of Health Protection for DPH, overseeing more than a dozen public health programs including Epidemiology, Infectious Disease and Immunization, Emergency Preparedness and the Georgia Public Health Lab. He is also the medical director for the Office of EMS and Trauma. O’Neal previously practiced emergency medicine for 29 years at DeKalb Medical Center and also served as the regional medical director for EMS throughout the Metro Atlanta area. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and a medical degree from the Tulane University School of Medicine. Following medical school, O’Neal entered the United States Air Force for training in flight medicine and later served as a flight surgeon in Vietnam.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., praised Trump’s appointment of Fitzgerald: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is on the front lines of protecting Americans from outbreaks of dangerous diseases, like the Ebola and Zika viruses. Much of the CDC’s work involves partnerships with local public health authorities, and Dr. Fitzgerald’s experience overseeing a multitude of health programs throughout Georgia’s 159 diverse counties makes her an excellent choice to manage this critically important agency,” said Isakson, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which oversees the CDC. “Dr. Fitzgerald has led numerous medical organizations, practiced medicine for three decades and served as a fellow in anti-aging medicine. Her experience as a service member in the U.S. Air Force adds to the expertise and leadership that she would bring to this role at the CDC. I look forward to working with her to support and strengthen the CDC.”