New York State Department of Health Announces Appointment of Acting Commissioner

National Search Underway for Permanent Replacement to Lead the Department

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 22, 2022) - The New York State Department of Health today announced that Dr. James McDonald will lead the Department as Acting Commissioner starting January 1, 2023, until a permanent commissioner is appointed, following a national search. Dr. McDonald currently serves as the Medical Director of DOH's Office of Public Health and Interim Director of the Center for Community Health, which is part of the Office of Public Health. Dr. McDonald came to DOH in July after working for 10 years at the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), most recently as Interim Director (Commissioner) of RIDOH.

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "Dr. McDonald is a unflappable leader and generous colleague, with broad knowledge and deep experience. He is perfectly suited to lead this transition. I wish him luck and want to thank Gov. Hochul again for having given me the opportunity to serve as Health Commissioner."

Dr. James McDonald said, "I want to thank Governor Hochul for entrusting me with leading DOH during this transition. It will be a privilege to follow Dr. Bassett in serving the people of New York in this role and continue to work alongside the thousands of DOH employees whose efforts protect the health of everyone in this state."

During his 10 years at RIDOH, Dr. McDonald carried out a wide variety of duties encompassing every area of the Department, including leading the state medical licensing board, Medical Director for the state overdose prevention program, prescription drug monitoring program and leadership roles in health policy, legislative affairs, and facility regulation. His most recent accomplishments there included guiding Rhode Island's successful ending of its COVID state of emergency and serving as the lead expert in successful litigation against opioid manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors, bringing more than $250 million in funding to Rhode Island over 18 years.

At DOH, Dr. McDonald has played a key role in the Department's ongoing rebuilding effort. He has also represented DOH in meetings with the CDC and White House and has served as New York's representative to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

Dr. McDonald earned his M.D. from Loyola Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago in 1990, completed a pediatric residency in the U.S. Navy and a preventive medicine residency at SUNY Albany. He earned his MPH from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Dr. McDonald is board certified in pediatrics as well as preventive medicine.

His diverse career includes serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy and working in private practice in a variety of rural areas, including the Navajo Nation.

Dr. McDonald is originally from Cohoes, N.Y., and currently lives in Latham with his wife and three children.