ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Governor Kathy Hochul has named her replacement for outgoing Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. She’s tapped Dr. Mary T. Bassett for the job.

Bassett is leaving the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University to return to public service. Bassett previously worked as the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Commissioner from 2014 to 2018. 

The incoming State Department of Health leader tweeted Wednesday, “As we move to end the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to create a state that is more equitable for all New Yorkers. I thank @GovKathyHochul for the opportunity and look forward to working with the team at @HealthNYGov.”

Governor Hochul says Bassett has more than 30 years of experience “promoting health equity and social justice.”

In a statement Hochul said, “Our recovery from this pandemic requires tested leadership and experience to improve health equity and access across the state, and Dr. Bassett is perfectly equipped to lead the New York State Department of Health during this critical moment.”

The selection comes after the Governor announced last week that Zucker had submitted his resignation as Health Commissioner. 

Zucker has been embroiled in controversy stemming from the state’s COVID-19 nursing home policy and data scandals under former Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

Medical Society of the State of New York President Joseph Sellers says he’s “thrilled” with the Governor’s choice. Sellers said, “…During her years as commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Dr. Bassett worked to tackle racial, ethnic, and economic health inequities.  We look forward to working with her to address those needs throughout the State in our shared fight for quality, accessible, and affordable health care for all New Yorkers.”

Bassett will start on December 1. Hochul has said Zucker will stay on until the new commissioner takes charge.