NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio announced today that Dr. Mary T. Bassett will step down as Health Commissioner at the end of August and will be succeeded by First Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, who will serve as Acting Health Commissioner.
Dr. Bassett will become director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, and will be appointed the François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights in the department of Social and Behavioral Science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Dr. Barbot will assume the role of Acting Health Commissioner on Sept. 1. A native New Yorker, Dr. Barbot has served as First Deputy Health Commissioner since early 2014. In this role, she has led the agency’s blueprint for achieving health equity, Take Care New York 2020, and has led the agency’s efforts to bridge the gap between public health and health care delivery. She also oversees the Department’s budget, contracting and emergency preparedness divisions, and leads the group responsible for agency performance measurement and policy development.
Dr. Bassett first served in the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from 2002 to 2009, as Deputy Commissioner of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. She was appointed Commissioner in January 2014.
As Commissioner, she oversaw the City’s public health response to several disease emergencies, including Ebola, Legionnaires, Zika and leptospirosis. She also played key roles in the design and execution of major City plans, including ThriveNYC, HealingNYC and NYC End the Epidemic, and oversaw the development of a comprehensive legislative package to further curtail tobacco use.
Dr. Bassett shifted the focus of the Health Department to health equity. She created the Center for Health Equity, as well as the Neighborhood Health Action Centers. These centers are housed in under-utilized Department of Health buildings and serve as resource centers that offer health and social services to communities in need, with the goal of increasing services to help reduce disparities in chronic conditions and premature mortality. Dr. Bassett also started Race to Justice, an effort to re-train the Health Department in implicit bias, which eventually expanded to other City agencies.