JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville mayoral candidate Donna Deegan wants to improve the health of every citizen in the city.
That was the message she shared during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Deegan said good health is one of the pillars of her campaign for mayor.
"As many of you know, I have spent the past 20 years of my life since my life with cancer began, working with cancer patients who have a tough time accessing the health care they need," she said. "I've spent a great deal of time looking at how we might improve that access for every citizen in Jacksonville."
Deegan was joined by Dr. Rogers Cain, president of the Northeast Florida Medical Society Foundation, Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Florida, and Dr. Sunil Joshi, allergist/immunologist and President of the Duval County Medical Society Foundation. She said the three physicians were the architects of her "good health plan," which has four initatives.
The plan include the following four steps:
- Appoint a Chief Health Officer. This person will be a physician whose job would be to make Jacksonville's health a top priority, Deegan said, as well as ensuring the city is held accountable on how city dollars are spent on health care.
- Provide enhanced support for nonprofit and philanthropic efforts working toward improving the city's health.
- Create a health-specific communications team to ensure needed education and information gets to the community, which Deegan said has not been a priority in the past.
- Fight for the City of Jacksonville when it comes to home rule and funding for health, which Deegan said has been "absolutely decimated at the state level."
Deegan said the plan will radically improve health outcomes in the city and decrease disparities in access to health care. She said it will help city leaders to prepare for future emergencies, including pandemics, hurricanes and climate change.
"(Good health) is the backbone of economic prosperity and quality of life," Deegan said. "In a recent survey, Jacksonville residents listed health as the number one driver of their quality of life, and nothing else came close."
Deegan said Jacksonville is the only major metropolitan area in Florida to rank in the bottom half of health outcomes in several areas: obesity and diabeties rates are 18% higher than the state average; premature death 36% higher; drug overdose does deaths due to addiction 66% above the state average.; and child mortality a "whopping 80% higher than the national average," she said.
During Deegan's campaign for U.S. House of Representatives in 2020, she said "the number one reason I am in this race is because of health care."
In the interest of being transparent, Donna Deegan is a former First Coast News anchor and reporter. Her husband, Tim Deegan, is our chief meteorologist. Tim Deegan does not play a role in our political coverage.