Crist selects Florida's first surgeon general


Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 11:33 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist named a doctor with a background in prison health services Wednesday as secretary of the state Health Department with an added title as Florida's first surgeon general.

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Dr. Ana M. Viamonte Ros answers questions at a news conference after she was appointed Secretary of the Department of Health and Florida's first Surgeon General by Gov. Charlie Crist, left, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007, in Tallahassee, Fla.

The Associated Press

Crist, though, acknowledged it may take legislative action to make Dr. Ana Viamonte Ros' designation as surgeon general stick by putting it into law. He said he hopes being surgeon general will bring greater visibility to her role as an advocate for such issues as children's health, one of Crist's top priorities.

"She's experienced in family and community health care and outreach to minority populations," Crist said at a news conference. "This will be a valuable asset to the department."

A sixth generation physician, Viamonte Ros is joining the Crist administration from Armor Correctional Health Services in Coconut Creek, where she manages clinical operation support. Her duties have included hiring doctors, nurses and other health care professionals at six county jails and three state prisons in Virginia.

"I really will do my very best and everything I can to be able to provide all Floridians with easily accessible, affordable and quality health care," Viamonte Ros said. "We're going to be looking at everything."

She has lived in Massachusetts and said she experienced that state's universal health care program. It requires all citizens to have health insurance with the state providing low-cost coverage for its poorest residents.

Her salary and starting date have not yet been determined, said a Crist spokeswoman Erin Isaac.

Dr. Joseph Chiaro, formerly a deputy secretary for children's medical services and deputy state health officer, has been serving as interim secretary under Crist. He replaced Dr. Rony Francois, an appointee of former Gov. Jeb Bush, who had been the state's highest paid agency head with a salary topping $160,000

Viamonte Ros has undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Miami and a master's degree in public health from Harvard University.

She did residencies at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C. and the University of Florida's Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

She has authored publications on mental health, radiology and family health.

The doctor was also named secretary of the state Health Department.

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