New city health commissioner will be “aggressive and innovative”

January 20, 2014 Heather Chin
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Mary Travis Bassett, M.D., has taken the reins of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, replacing outgoing commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. Bassett served as deputy commissioner of health promotion and disease prevention under Farley and his predecessor Dr. Thomas Frieden.

Since 2002, she helped establish District Public Health Offices in North and Central Brooklyn, East and Central Harlem, and the Bronx, and also oversaw the controversial yet successful public health campaigns to require calorie counts and ban smoking and trans fats in restaurants.

“We don’t believe in a back-seat approach to protecting public health,” said Bassett upon her appointment by Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We will be aggressive and innovative in tackling today’s epidemics. Whether it is protecting a community facing the loss of a hospital, or ensuring that all neighborhoods enable healthy choices as people eat, work and play, we will meet New Yorkers where they live and ensure their health—both mental and physical—is protected.”

Bassett is a native New Yorker who has worked with UNICEF, the World Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s African Health Initiative and Child Abuse Prevention Program.

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