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Hochul nominates Dr. McDonald to lead NYS Department of Health

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  • Staff Report 

Governor Kathy Hochul has nominated Dr. James McDonald to lead the state Department of Health, following his service as the department’s acting commissioner since the beginning of the year. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the state Senate.


Dr. McDonald’s nomination comes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, three years after its onset, and a myriad of challenges faced by public health officials. In her statement, Hochul praised the department’s work in keeping New Yorkers safe and healthy, and expressed confidence that McDonald possesses the necessary skills and experience to lead the Department of Health.

Dr. McDonald will replace Dr. Mary Bassett, who left the post at the beginning of this year. Health officials in the state continue to contend with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other overlapping issues, such as the spread of monkeypox and polio in the Hudson Valley region.


In his response to the nomination, Dr. McDonald expressed his gratitude to Governor Hochul and pledged to work closely with his colleagues to continue delivering for New Yorkers. He joined the state Department of Health in July 2022 as the medical director of the Office of Public Health, after spending a decade at the Rhode Island Department of Health, where he served in several posts, including interim director of health.

If confirmed by the state Senate, Dr. McDonald will take on the honor of a lifetime, as he leads the state’s Department of Health through the ongoing public health challenges facing New Yorkers.