Gov. Hochul appoints Dr. Mary Bassett as New York state health commissioner. What to know
Dr. Mary Bassett, a former top New York City health official, has been appointed as the New York State health commissioner, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday.
Basset, who is currently a Harvard University professor, will replace outgoing Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, who submitted his resignation this month after playing a central role in COVID-19 related scandals that plagued former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Bassett’s appointment as the top state health official is effective Dec. 1, and Zucker will remain in the job until then.
“Our recovery from this pandemic requires tested leadership and experience to improve health equity and access across the state, and Dr. Bassett is perfectly equipped to lead the New York State Department of Health during this critical moment," Hochul said in a statement.
Bassett has had a 30-year career that spanned jobs in government, academia and nonprofit work, including efforts promoting health equity and social justice, Hochul added.
From 2014 through summer 2018, Bassett served as commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, leading the agency’s response to Ebola, Legionnaires' disease and other disease outbreaks.
Before that, she served as deputy commissioner of health promotion and disease prevention in the city since 2002, according to the governor’s office.
“The pandemic underscored the importance of public health, while also revealing inequities driven by structural racism,” Bassett said in a statement about her appointment to lead the state Department of Health.
“As we move to end the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to create a state that is more equitable for all New Yorkers,” she added.
During her time in New York City’s health agency, Bassett worked on tobacco control interventions and food policy, as well as programs providing services to neighborhoods harmed by racial, ethnic, and economic health inequalities.
From 2009 to 2014, Dr. Bassett also served as program director for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's African Health Initiative and Child Well-Being Prevention Program.
Early in her career, Bassett served on the medical faculty at the University of Zimbabwe for 17 years. Bassett grew up in New York City.
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