On Wednesday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that the outgoing health commissioner Howard Zucker will be replaced by former New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett.
Bassett’s appointment is effective December 1, and Zucker, during his resignation, had agreed to stay until his replacement came on board. Bassett served as a resident in a Harlem hospital and spent 17 years developing AIDS-prevention programs in Zimbabwe. She is currently director of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
In a prepared statement announcing Bassett’s appointment, Hochul noted her 30 years of experience in the public and private sectors and her devotion to health equity and social justice. “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 response to the appointment, Bassett stated, “I am humbled and honored to return to my home state of New York to lead the Department of Health at this pivotal time.”