Mayor Bill de Blasio appoints 1st Latina to to lead New York City health department

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has appointed Dr. Oxiris Barbot as Commissioner of the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Dr. Barbot will lead the 6,000-member agency charged with protecting and promoting the health of New Yorkers in one of the largest and oldest public health agencies in the world.

She will become the first Latina to lead the agency.

"My 25 years in clinical medicine and public health have been guided by a commitment to equity, community engagement and innovation, as well as a track record of incorporating mental health into my clinical and public health practice," Dr. Barbot said. "Those priorities will continue to be a focus as I work to address reducing racially-based inequities within the most pressing health issues facing our city - opioid overdose deaths, the HIV epidemic and maternal/child health outcomes. I look forward to working with all of our city partners to achieve these goals."

A native of the Bronx, Dr. Barbot most recently served as Acting Health Commissioner. During that time, she oversaw the rollout of the Bronx Action plan, an $8 million initiative to tackle the opioid epidemic in the South Bronx.

She also announced NYC's Standards for Respectful Care at Birth, which aims to improve health outcomes for women and reduce structural racism and unconscious bias at all 38 city maternity hospitals, clinical providers, and more than 100 community-based organizations.

"As a native New Yorker, Dr. Barbot understands that improving the health of our city starts with keeping health equity at the center of our work," de Blasio said. "Her extraordinary experience will be invaluable as we continue making New Yorkers the healthiest they can be, both physically and mentally."

Dr. Barbot first joined the city's Department of Health and Mental Services in 2003, serving as Medical Director for the New York City Public School System.

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