COVID-19 has exposed the lack of investment in the nation’s public health infrastructure—from chronic underfunding to long-standing inequities. The pandemic also highlighted the critical role private businesses play in filling gaps that our systems struggle to address.

We will talk to leaders in business and health about how private companies are responding to the many health challenges of the day— from the historic development of COVID-19 vaccines to investing in long-term preparedness and a healthy workforce.

Highlights

Rite Aid CEO Heyward Donigan says recent winter weather delayed shipments of the vaccine allotment the company was set to receive from the federal government, resulting in the rescheduling of 35,000 vaccine appointments. Donigan says it does appear they will be getting their allocation this coming week. “Between the weather and all of the logistics, we just haven’t received the doses that we had assumed we would. It does look—that was for one week—it does look like we are going to get our allocation for this coming week.” (Washington Post Live)
Rite Aid CEO Heyward Donigan says volume has been one of the biggest challenges of vaccine distribution: “Everyone’s slammed…there’s just millions and millions of people trying to get through to get scheduled. The demand is so intense that it’s hard for anyone —technology or call center to keep up with it at this point.” (Washington Post Live)
Rite Aid CEO Heyward Donigan says she believes there will be a “glut of vaccines” in the coming months. “Most of us believe there will be a glut of vaccines by the summer, maybe late summer, maybe fall, but sometime this year.” She added that she believes Rite Aid is being underutilized and could vaccinate many more customers. “We’re really underutilized right now because we have, at least last I counted, 1160 of our 2400 stores doing vaccines. So even our stores aren’t doing all the vaccines. “ (Washington Post Live)
Google Chief Health Officer Karen DeSalvo says Google will not mandate that its employees be vaccinated, but they are “encouraging it.” (Washington Post Live)
Delta Airlines Chief Health Officer Henry Ting, MD, says the company believes its mitigation efforts are enough to keep passengers safe at this point. “Domestic travel testing probably right now is not something we’d recommend. We think with all the mitigation efforts, flying on a plane is quite safe, and some may argue that it’s maybe even safer than going to a sporting stadium or to the grocery store if there are people who are unmasked in your crowded, confined areas.” (Washington Post Live)

Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer, Google Health

Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc is Chief Health Officer at Google Health. She joined Google in December 2019. A month into her job, she stepped up to play a critical role in supporting Google’s efforts to help public health officials around the world combat COVID-19. She is also adjunct Professor of Medicine and Population Health at University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School and co-convenes the National Alliance to Impact the Social Determinants of Health. She is a physician executive working at the intersection of medicine, public health, and information technology to improve the health of all people with a focus on catalyzing pragmatic solutions to address all the social determinants of health. Dr. DeSalvo was National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and Assistant Secretary for Health (Acting) in the Obama Administration. Prior to joining HHS, she was the New Orleans Health Commissioner. Dr. DeSalvo was previously Vice Dean for Community Affairs and Health Policy at Tulane School of Medicine, Chief of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics. She serves on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and is on the Board of Directors for Welltower and previously served on the Board of Humana. She is the President of the Society of General Internal Medicine and past Honorary Vice President, United States, for the American Public Health Association. She earned her MD and MPH from Tulane University, and a masters in clinical epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Heyward Donigan, CEO, Rite Aid

Heyward Donigan was appointed Rite Aid’s president and chief executive officer in August 2019.

Before joining Rite Aid, Donigan was president and chief executive officer of Sapphire Digital, which designs and develops omnichannel platforms that help consumers choose their best fit healthcare providers. In that role, Donigan led Sapphire Digital’s strategy and operations to record growth and consumer engagement. Prior to Sapphire Digital, Donigan was president and chief executive officer of ValueOptions, then the nation’s largest independent behavioral health improvement company, where she drove innovation through disciplined execution and grew company revenues to over $1 billion. Previously, Donigan served as executive vice president & chief marketing officer at Premera Blue Cross, where, she was responsible for driving profitable growth across the individual, small group, mid-market and national account businesses, and helped the company achieve record growth and profits. Earlier in her career, Donigan served as senior vice president of all operations at Cigna Healthcare. She has also held executive roles at General Electric, Empire BCBS and U.S. Healthcare, and previously served on the Board of Directors at several public companies, including Kindred Healthcare.

Donigan holds a master’s of public administration from New York University. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Virginia.

Henry Ting, Chief Health Officer, Delta Air Lines

World-renowned cardiologist Dr. Henry Ting joined Delta Air Lines in 2021 as the global brand’s Chief Health Officer – a first for a U.S. airline. In his most recent role as Mayo Clinic’s enterprise Chief Value Officer, Dr. Ting became familiar with Delta both as a long-time Medallion customer and, more recently, as a primary COVID-19 advisor who has helped shape Delta’s response since the early days of the pandemic.

From employee testing and cleanliness strategies to operational tactics that reduce the transmission of the virus, Dr. Ting has been a key voice in the health and wellness decisions that have helped Delta strengthen the people-first approach we were known for even prior to the pandemic. As part of the Delta team, Dr. Ting is building on this work to help Delta navigate the pandemic and emerge stronger and better prepared for the future.

Working collaboratively with groups across the airline, Dr. Ting leads Delta in reimagining our approach to health and well-being, utilizing new technologies, artificial intelligence, advanced analytics and innovative partnerships.

In addition to his role at Delta, Dr. Ting will retain his title as Professor Emeritus at Mayo Clinic.

Before joining Delta, Dr. Ting served in multiple leadership roles at Mayo Clinic including enterprise Chief Value Officer, clinical practice Chair of the Department of Cardiology and Associate Dean. He also served as S.V.P. and Chief Quality Officer at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Dr. Ting’s academic focus includes health services research, outcomes research and implementation science. He has lectured worldwide and authored over 200 journal articles, book chapters and publications. In addition, he has served on committees and boards for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, National Quality Forum and U.S. News & World Report advisory council.

Dr. Ting received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Cornell University, Doctorate of Medicine from Harvard Medical School and master’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas.

Content from de Beaumont Foundation

This content was produced and paid for by a Washington Post Live event sponsor. The Washington Post newsroom was not involved in the production of this content.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the weakness of the US public health system with severe economic and social consequences. It also presents a unique opportunity to introduce innovative solutions that will positively impact the health and well-being of workers and their communities. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in partnership with the de Beaumont Foundation, brought together 40 business and public health leaders for a series of focus group interviews and asked them, “how would you best address the COVID-19 pandemic today – and also, how would you prepare us for future public health crises?” The ideas shared are featured in a new report, “7 Ways Business Can Align with Public Health for Bold Action and Innovation.” Here, business leaders will not only find answers to challenges that companies can adopt immediately, but also “big goal” solutions aimed at broader societal initiatives to rebuild America’s public health system.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the weakness of the US public health system with severe economic and social consequences. It also presents a unique opportunity to introduce innovative solutions that will positively impact the health and well-being of workers and their communities. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in partnership with the de Beaumont Foundation, brought together 40 business and public health leaders for a series of focus group interviews and asked them, “how would you best address the COVID-19 pandemic today – and also, how would you prepare us for future public health crises?” The ideas shared are featured in a new report, “7 Ways Business Can Align with Public Health for Bold Action and Innovation.” Here, business leaders will not only find answers to challenges that companies can adopt immediately, but also “big goal” solutions aimed at broader societal initiatives to rebuild America’s public health system. (Washington Post Live)

Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, MA, President and CEO, de Beaumont Foundation

An award-winning epidemiologist with 10 years of experience working in state and local health departments, Brian brings a unique perspective to the philanthropic sector that allows him to shape and implement visionary and practical initiatives and partnerships and bring together research and practice to improve public health. Under his leadership, the de Beaumont Foundation is advancing policy, building partnerships, and strengthening the public health system to create communities where people can achieve their best possible health. Among the projects he has spearheaded are CityHealth, the BUILD Health Challenge, and the Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS). He is also an editor and contributing author to The Practical Playbook. Public Health. Primary Care. Together, published by Oxford University Press in 2015. Brian has published more than 70 articles in the areas of public health systems and services research, maternal and child health, health promotion, and chronic disease prevention. His recent work has focused on the public health needs of large cities, the need for better data systems, and public health system improvements. Brian earned his Doctorate in Public Health Leadership at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from North Carolina State University and a Master of Arts degree in sociomedical sciences from Columbia University.

Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD, Senior Scientist, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director, Institute for Health and Productivity Studies

Dr. Ron Z. Goetzel is Senior Scientist and director of the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (IHPS) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Vice President of Consulting and Applied Research at IBM Watson Health. IHPS’ mission is to bridge the gap between academia, the business community, and the health care policy world.

At IBM Watson Health, Dr. Goetzel conducts research on the relationship between employee health and well-being, medical costs, and productivity. He has directed multiple evaluations of health promotion and disease prevention programs. Dr. Goetzel is president and CEO of The Health Project, which annually awards the C. Everett Koop Prize to employers demonstrating cost-effective health and well-being programs.

Dr. Goetzel earned his doctorate in in Applied Social Psychology from New York University and his B.S. in Psychology from the City College of New York.

Interviewed by LuAnn Heinen, Vice President, Business Group on Health

LuAnn Heinen leads Well-being and Workforce Strategy for the Business Group on Health. Business Group on Health is the leading non-profit organization representing large employers’ perspectives on health policy issues and optimizing workforce strategy through innovative health, benefits and well-being solutions. Members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, and collectively provide health coverage for more than 60 million workers, retirees and their families in more than 200 countries. LuAnn’s team is responsible for the Business Group’s Well-being & Workforce Strategy Institute, a group of 60 leading employers and industry partners addressing the current and future state of well-being and work; Leave Optimization Forum, a community of 80 large employers and industry partners focused on time away, flexibility and work-life integration; and the Best Employers: Excellence in Health and Well-being awards. As part of the leadership team, LuAnn has accountability for well-being content development and related partnerships. She’s a frequent media commentator and co-hosts the Business Group on Health podcast. LuAnn graduated from Stanford University (AB, Human Biology with distinction) and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (MPP).