Keynote: A conversation with DOH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink

“The cheapest patients are healthy patients, and so collectively we need to move in that direction.”

We were honored to have Anne Zink, MD, the Chief Medical Officer of the Alaska Department of Health (DOH) deliver the Morning Keynote at the 2022 Alaska State of Reform Health Policy Conference earlier this month.

Having assumed this integral leadership role at DOH soon before the onset of the pandemic—which she likened to being strapped to the front of a rocket ship—Zink discussed her experience responding to the unprecedented crisis and how she is focused on working upstream to promote better public health outcomes in the state.

 

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“[The pandemic response] was about partnerships, about priorities, it’s about perspective … At the beginning of the pandemic, we were stepping on each other’s toes. The tribal system and [our department] both sent testing machines to the same place. We were thinking that the federal government was going to send resources or that we were going to be able to partner. It became clear that testing would be allocated based on the total number of your cases, not even cases per capita …

We really realized that we were on our own, and we needed to figure out how we were going to respond in that space together. And I think that transition and that shift to ‘Okay, who are our partners here [and] how can we work together?’ was a truly ‘Alaska’ experience, and we saw Alaskans stand up.”