On July 29, Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett announced a set of new efforts to align the internal organization and focus of the Department of Health to leverage the department’s talent, workflow and collaboration, integration of new systems, and increasing diversity as part of its overall mission to build a healthier, more equitable New York. The initiatives include establishing within the department the Office of Aging & Long Term Care, the Office of Health Equity & Human Rights, and a chief medical officer position; strengthening regional offices; and establishing a new leadership cabinet for the commissioner.
The commissioner’s announcement further laid out the five areas of focus driving those efforts and indicated that these would remain core areas of interest for the department over the next three years:
- Invest in our people, bring in new and diverse talent, simplify hiring processes, and create a culture of support and appreciation after the significant sacrifices made during the COVID response.
- Shape our organization so that it reflects our focus on health equity, the needs of older New Yorkers, and emergency preparedness and response.
- Become more proactive by developing policy coordination and project management capabilities and simplifying critical processes.
- Align public health, insurance and regulatory tools across divisions to maximize impact and improve health outcomes.
- Improve our use of data to advance our mission of improving public health and health equity.
The department’s new Office of Health Equity & Human Rights will be led by Deputy Commissioner Johanne Morne and will address health disparities in New York while working to improve diversity, equity and inclusion within the department. The office will be comprised of current departmental units, including the offices of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention and Language Access, the AIDS Institute, and the Office of Gun Violence Prevention.
The Office of Aging & Long Term Care will be led by Deputy Commissioner Adam Herbst and will work to develop policy and programs to address the needs of older New Yorkers as well as others with disabilities requiring long-term care services and supports. The new office will work collaboratively with the Office of Health Insurance Programs, the Office of Primary Care and Health Systems Management, and the NYS Office for the Aging to coordinate department work related to aging New Yorkers.
In an effort to strengthen regional department offices, and to better integrate them into policy-making and answer their regional and local priorities, the commissioner also announced that regional offices would be reorganized under the Office of Public Health.
Additionally, the commissioner named Dr. Eugene Heslin as chief medical officer for the department. In his role, Dr. Heslin will leverage his more than 30 years of experience in health care leadership, policy development and management to provide medical and clinical expertise to all senior leadership and department staff.
Finally, the commissioner announced the formation of a Commissioner’s Cabinet to report directly to her and to serve as advisors to her on vital issues as the department continues its work to protect, improve and promote the health of New Yorkers. The members of the cabinet that have been announced are:
- Laura Mascuch, Chief of Staff
- Kristin Proud, Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner
- Dr. Ursula Bauer, Deputy Commissioner for Public Health
- Dr. Eugene Heslin, First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Medical Officer
- Sam Miller, Associate Commissioner for External Affairs
- Kathy Marks, General Counsel
- Amir Bassiri, Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Health Insurance Programs and acting Medicaid Director
- Adam Herbst, Deputy Commissioner of Aging & Long Term Care
- Dr. John Morley, Deputy Commissioner of Primary Care and Health Systems Management
- Johanne Morne, Deputy Commissioner of Health Equity and Human Rights
- Diane Christensen, Deputy Commissioner of Administration
- Danielle Holahan, Executive Director, NY State of Health
- Megan Baldwin, Senior Advisor
- Paul Francis, Senior Advisor
- Sandra Mullin, Senior Advisor