Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, was recognized last night by Modern Healthcare as one of its 2019 Women Leaders to Watch in Healthcare.

The biennial recognition program honors the United States’ top women healthcare executives who are influencing the policy and care delivery models across the country. In doing so, they are also highlighting the continued need to nurture diversity in healthcare organizations.

Gee was featured with the other winners in the February 18, 2019 print issue of Modern Healthcare, a weekly business publication targeting executives in the healthcare industry, and on its website.

Gee’s profile notes her naming of 2019 as “the year of public health,” pivoting the Department of Health more toward social determinants, her recognition as New Orleans City Business’s Woman of the Year and her American Medical Student Association Women in Leadership Award.

“This recognition from Modern Healthcare is a testament to our wonderful accomplishments at the Department of Health that have been made possible by our governor, John Bel Edwards,” Gee said. “Our efforts have resulted not only in expanded care from the Medicaid expansion, but we are also focusing on many areas of public health such as creating a healthier Louisiana through leading the way to eliminating hepatitis C, improving cancer outcomes and ensuring safe maternity care.”

Teri Fontenot, a retired healthcare executive who served for 23 years as the CEO of Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, said Gee is a passionate leader who is committed to helping other women achieve their goals and tackles the health and societal challenges facing Louisiana like a true “steel magnolia.”

“Dr. Gee is never one to shy away from problems that some may consider impossible to solve. Can’t is not in her vocabulary, especially when vulnerable women and children are impacted,” Fontenot said. “She oversees a $14 billion annual budget and over 8,000 employees in hundreds of locations throughout the state. Her star is shining even more brightly as a result of her recent negotiation with a drug company to provide a subscription model for access to expensive hepatitis c drugs. This innovative model is saving lives and being implemented in several other states.”

“Unfortunately, the gender gap plagues healthcare just as much as it does other industries. Women CEOs comprise an estimated 30 percent (at most) of the overall C-suite. But the executives named to this year’s Top 25 Women Leaders list exemplify how diversity results in success, both clinically and financially,” said Aurora Aguilar, editor for Modern Healthcare. “Congratulations to those leaders in the 2019 class and this year’s 10 to Watch.”