ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)– On January 1, Dr. Mary Bassett will no longer be New York State’s Health Commissioner, a role she’s had over the past year. She believes whoever takes this role should be there for a long-term commitment.
“I think it’s appropriate that the incoming commissioner have a full four-year run and be able to work under the leadership of Hochul who has become the first woman, the first person I believe, from Western New York in nearly a century to win the position of Governor,” said Bassett. “This is my decision.”
Governor Kathy Hochul said Dr. Basset’s position will not be filled by January 1.
“We’re going to conduct an extensive search,” explained Hochul. “These are big shoes to fill and we are going to make sure we find the best person to manage this. We have a lot of institutional knowledge in our operations. Dr. Bassett imported a lot of strong values that are still in bedded in that department, so I feel confident that our team can manage through the next few months given that we had our first four months last year without having a commissioner at the time and Dr. Basset stepped in as a lifeline for us.”
Bassett’s time as commissioner hasn’t come without criticism. Some lawmakers have been calling on her to release a report on a nursing home COVID policy made under the previous administration.
Now, the Assembly Minority Conference is calling on both Bassett and Hochul to convene the Reimagining Long-term Care Task Force, which was created to provide recommendations on how to improve the well-being of residents in those facilities. Republican Assemblyman Josh Jensen shared what he would like see with a new health commissioner.
“We need to have a health commissioner who takes seriously the concerns of all New Yorkers and is not somebody in the position who thinks it’s a politically expedient job, but somebody who really focuses on healthcare outcomes and someone who works with every citizen in our state,” said Jensen.
Bassett has decided to leave this position to return to the Harvard Chan School of Public Health.