The same day that the number of infected COVID-19 in Puerto Rico reached a hundred cases, the Senate approved this afternoon the appointment of Lorenzo González Feliciano as the new Secretary of Health.
The process of his appointment was by the expedited route and without the holding of a public hearing, although the president of the Senate Appointments Commission, Héctor Martínez, indicated that the nominee complied with the delivery of the required documents
“Dr. Lorenzo González will come to the Health Department to do what is required and what is needed”Martinez said when presenting the appointment.
Among other things, Martínez, who is met in the morning with González Feliciano, indicated that the new owner’s plan is for the Health laboratory to operate 24 hours processing COVID-19 tests and not between 8 and 12 hours, as is the case now. .
Popular senator Cirilo Tirado indicated that González Feliciano should clarify if he is a partner of any corporation that renders services to the government, and that he has to separate himself from these matters. The legislator reviewed during his shift the agency’s failures, particularly after Hurricane Maria.
“This four-year period has been a disaster“said Tirado.
The popular minority present in the chamber endorsed the appointment. “It is a vote of confidence,” said Tirado.
The also popular senator Aníbal José Torres justified his vote in favor by pointing out that the country needs a headline in the Department of Health, but summoned him to explain how he is going to avoid repeating the scenario in which an official from La Fortaleza, referring Mabel Cabeza had access to COVID-19 tests, in addition to its distribution in nine hospitals without the knowledge of the former internal secretary of Health, Concepción Quiñones de Longo, who resigned from the position.
According to González Feliciano told this newspaper, when accepting the appointment of Governor Wanda Vázquez he resigned from his position as medical director of the Physician Correctional Corporation, which provides physical and mental health services to the inmate population.
The psychiatrist and former Secretary of Health under the administration of former Governor Luis Fortuño, said in an interview with El Nuevo Día published today, Saturday, that he has the experience of having attended the AH1N1 influenza pandemic that occurred between 2009 and 2010, as well as an epidemic dengue.
The pro-independence senator Juan Dalmau Ramírez opposed the appointment. In short, he voted against due to the alleged mismanagement by the emergency governor and the administration of the Health Department.
“I cannot do it (vote in favor),” he said, recalling the “parallel handling” of the Health task force and the distribution of 500 tests of COVID-19.
“There doesn’t seem to be a road map. In the way the appointment has been handled, the governor has depended on the fact that, as we are in a crisis, we have to accept this appointment. ”Dalmau Ramírez said.
Independent senator José Vargas Vidot favored the appointment.
“You are challenged to gain a sense of transparency for that department, to gain credibility, and to heal the wounds of that department,” said Vargas Vidot. “Communicate, not defensively, communicate frankly and honestly.”
The new Secretary of Health, who worked for 15 years at the Joint Commission, the accrediting entity for hospitals and health systems, has said that he will join the work of the “task force” appointed by the governor to advise her on the management of the pandemic.
González Feliciano has a Doctorate in Health Systems Administration from the Central Michigan University, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh-Katz Institute and is a Doctor of Medicine, graduated from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine.
He also has a specialty in child and adolescent psychiatry from Columbia University in New York.