Admiral Rachel Levine, MD wears many hats in addition to a smart uniform dress cap: celebrated physician and professor of medicine, gender pioneer, USA Today Woman of the Year, public health authority, and blood donation advocate.
Appointed 17th Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by President Biden in the midst of the worst public health crisis in over a century, Adm. Levine serves also as head of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
HHS oversees programs and agencies such as the FDA, which regulates blood donation; the NIH, which runs the All of Us Research Program; HRSA, which has provided grants to our Cord Blood program; HIPAA, which keeps patient and donor information safe; and the CDC, whose guidance Bloodworks has followed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adm. Levine stopped by Bloodworks on the afternoon of March 21 to meet with Bloodworks leadership. She told the group that she’s the “chief blood safety officer for the United States,” a role she realized after she took the job.
The path to this meeting started, like everything at Bloodworks, in a local vein: through Renée Bouvion, MPH, HHS’ Regional Health Administrator for Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Bloodworks reached out to Renée when it looked as if the blood supply in the Pacific Northwest was on the verge of collapse in 2020.
Despite a whirlwind day of visits beginning at 7 a.m., “[Adm. Levine] was just really attentive and engaged,” said Anne Sauget, Bloodworks’ Chief Workforce Officer. “I really enjoyed our visit with her, for many reasons.”
“She’s a historic figure,” Anne added.