Dr. Ashwin Vasan To Become Next NYC Health Commissioner, After Leading Mental Health Clubhouse

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chukchi has served as a guiding force through most of the pandemic, conducting televised public service announcements and appearing at press conferences alongside the mayor. He is now preparing to pass the baton.

Mayor Eric Adams announced Wednesday that Dr. Ashwin Vasan, an epidemiologist and medical practitioner who is currently president and CEO of the Manhattan-based nonprofit mental health organization, will succeed Chukchi.

“Dr. Vasan brings 20 years of experience and expertise working in public health that will ensure that New Yorkers are well-equipped to continue the fight against COVID-19.” After Dr. Vasan takes on his role, we will build on the progress we have made, ensuring that we continue our fight against the pandemic with Fulfilling my public health priorities, from promoting mental health services to promoting healthy eating in city facilities.”

Chukchi chirp He told Adams in November that he was stepping down, but was committed to a “smooth transition given the pandemic.” Chokshi will remain in office amid the current omicron increase, and Vasan will take over on March 15. Vasan will serve as senior public health advisor until the transition takes place.

Vassan’s recent work has focused on mental health and health equity – two issues that the pandemic has brought to the fore.

In 2019, he became president of Fountain House, a decades-old club for mentally ill people based in midtown Manhattan, with the goal of creating a nationwide network of such facilities. At panel discussions hosted by the organization this year, he talked about how the city must reform its approach to homelessness and policing to better serve New Yorkers with mental health issues.

Speaking on the Brian Lehrer Show Tuesday, Vasan emphasized that mental health crisis calls should be met with a health care response, rather than a police response — something the city recently began testing in Harlem through the B-HEARD pilot.

“Look, we have a pretty broken mental health system across this country, and the response to a mental health crisis is no different,” he said on the show.

Vasan was the founding executive director of the City Health Department’s Equal Access to Health Unit from 2016 to 2019. In this role, he helped develop a network of health care resources for people who have returned to the community after incarceration.

Previously he worked with Partners In Health and the World Health Organization to advance access to HIV/AIDS treatment in other countries. He is also an assistant professor at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.

“I am deeply honored and honored to join the Mayor-Elect Adams Administration to help New Yorkers resist COVID-19, and I am grateful to Dr. Chukchi for his tireless work on behalf of our city,” Vasan said in a statement. . “Make no mistake: we will stop the spread of this virus,” he added.

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