Mayor Bill de Blasio named Thursday Dr. Mary Bassett as Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“Protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers is our No.1 priority. We have built a progressive and diverse team committed to reaching every neighborhood and caring for its people—including its most vulnerable,” said Mayor de Blasio, at a press conference in City Hall.
“We don’t believe in a back-seat approach to protecting public health. 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,” said incoming Health Commissioner Mary Bassett.
The appointment of Dr. Mary Bassett as Health commissioner is one of the most important roles in the de Blasio administration. Ms. Bassett served as a deputy commissioner in the department of health under Mayor Bloomberg.
In addressing Mr. Bloomberg’s nanny state obsession, the incoming commissioner endorsed most of the health regulations enacted by Bloomberg, but promised to engage with all communities.
“We know we can do better, communicating with communities across the City and listening to them,” Mayor de Blasio said. The mayor added that while he’s committed to stay true to the vision of promoting public health, the doors and ears of City Hall will be open in engaging with the various communities. “This is not top down,” he said.
Dr. Bassett also addressed Metzitzah B’Peh, saying the current policy of consent forms in place do not ban the practice of Bris Milah and therefore a model to follow. “The intention is to keep that in place, but we need to do a better job in listening to the communities’ concerns,” she said.
Mayor de Blasio agreed with the new commissioner. “We will keep them in place while searching for a solution that would make it more effective,” Mr. de Blasio announced.
But he added that while his main concern is the health of the children, the new administration will look for a better and more effective policy that will take in count the concerns of the Orthodox Jewish community.
The mayor said that the administration’s fundamental approach is the safety of children’s lives. “When it comes to this issue, I see it with the same prism – our job is to protect children,” he said. “The current approach can be better. That is what we are going to figure out with the community.”
“In the meantime, the forms will stay in place while we seek a better path,” the mayor stated.
(Jacob Kornbluh – YWN)