New York State Department of Health

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New York State Department of Health
Department overview
FormedFebruary 19, 1901 (1901-02-19)
JurisdictionNew York
HeadquartersAlbany, NY
Department executive
  • Howard A. Zucker, Commissioner
Key document Edit this at Wikidata

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is the department of the New York state government responsible for public health.[1][2] It is headed by Health Commissioner Howard A. Zucker, M.D., J.D., who was appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and confirmed by the State Senate on May 5, 2015.[3] Its regulations are compiled in title 10 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations.

Public health infrastructure[edit]

The CDC describes the public health infrastructure as three components: organizational capacity, the consortium of public health agencies and laboratories, working side-by-side with private partners, to provide the essential services; workforce capacity and competency, the expertise of health professionals; and information and data systems, the up-to-date guidelines, recommendations and health alerts, and the information and systems that monitor disease and enable efficient communication.[4]

A nurse pinning ceremony at Nazareth College. Nurses represent a majority of rural public health workers.

New York relies on a county-based system for delivery of public health services.[5] NYSDOH promotes the prevention and disease control, environmental health, healthy lifestyles, and emergency preparedness and response; supervises local health boards; oversees reporting and vital records; conducts surveillance of hospitals; does research at the Wadsworth Center; and administers several other health insurance programs and institutions.[5] 58 local health departments offer core services including assessing community health, disease control and prevention, family health, and health education; 37 localities provide environmental health services, while the other 21 rely on NYSDOH.[5]

At the local level, public health workers are found not only in local health agencies but also in private and nonprofit organizations concerned with the public's health.[4] The most common professional disciplines are physicians, nurses, environmental specialists, laboratorians, health educators, disease investigators, outreach workers, and managers, but also includes allied health professions: dentists, social workers, nutritionists, anthropologists, psychologists, economists, political scientists, engineers, information technology specialists, public health informaticians, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, and lawyers.[4] Nurses represented 22% of the localities' workforce (and 42% of full-time equivalent workers in rural localities), scientific/investigative staff represented 22%–27% of the workforce, support staff represented 28%, education/outreach staff represented 10%, and physicians represented 1%.[5] In 2018 the NYSDOH had over 3300 personnel in its central office, three regional offices, three field offices and nine district health offices, and an additional 1400 personnel in its five healthcare institutions.[6]


An engraving depicting a violent mob attacking a closed gate, and above the gate a sign says "Quarantine Marine Hospital".
The 1858 Staten Island Quarantine War was a series of attacks on the New York Marine Hospital in Staten Island

The earliest New York state laws regarding public health were quarantine laws for the port of New York, first passed by the New York General Assembly in 1758.[7] The 1793 Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic precipitated the 1799–1800 creation of the New York Marine Hospital, and in 1801 its resident physician and the health officers of the port were constituted as the New York City board of health. The 1826–1837 cholera pandemic precipitated further legislation. In 1847 a law mandated civil registration of vital events (births, marriages, and deaths). In 1866, the state legislature passed the Metropolitan Health Law and established the NYC Metropolitan Board of Health, and in 1870 the legislature replaced it with the NYC Department of Health.[8][9]

The State Board of Health was created 18 May 1880 by the 103rd Legislature.[10] The 1881–1896 cholera pandemic further caused an expansion of its powers to compel reporting and to perform the duties of local boards of health. The State Department of Health and its commissioner were created by an act of 19 February 1901 of the 124th Legislature, superseding the board.[11]

List of commissioners[edit]

Name Dates in Office Governors Served Comments
Daniel Lewis March 6, 1901[12] – early 1905 Benjamin B. Odell, Jr. previously was President of the State Board of Health, which became the Department of Health, and served out his term
Eugene H. Porter May 1905[13] – early 1914 Frank W. Higgins, Charles Evans Hughes,
Horace White, John Alden Dix,
William Sulzer, Martin H. Glynn
served out his term
Hermann M. Biggs January 19, 1914[14] – June 28, 1923[15] Martin H. Glynn, Charles S. Whitman,
Alfred E. Smith
died while serving
Matthias Nicoll, Jr. July 13, 1914[16] – January 11, 1930[17] Alfred E. Smith, Nathan L. Miller,
Alfred E. Smith, Franklin D. Roosevelt
resigned to become Commissioner of the Westchester County (New York) Department of Health
Thomas J. Parran, Jr. March 5, 1930[18] – May 6, 1936[19] Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert Lehman resigned to become Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service
Edward S. Godfrey April 21, 1936[20] – May 1, 1947[21] Herbert Lehman, Charles Poletti, Thomas E. Dewey retired
Herman E. Hilleboe July 1, 1947[22] – January 7, 1963[23] Thomas E. Dewey, W. Averell Harriman,
Nelson A. Rockefeller
became head of the Division of Public Health Practice at the Columbia University School of Public Health[24]
Hollis S. Ingraham January 7, 1963?[23] – January 2, 1975[25][26] Nelson A. Rockefeller served out his term
Robert P. Whalen January 2, 1975[25] – April 29, 1975[27] (acting)
April 29, 1975[27] – December 31,1978[28]
Hugh Carey resigned to become vice chairman of the New York State Health Planning Commission
David Axelrod January 1, 1979[29] – May 12, 1991[30] Hugh Carey, Mario M. Cuomo resigned after a severe stroke[31]
Lorna McBarnette February 25, 1991 – June 9, 1992 Mario M. Cuomo acting[32]
Mark R. Chassin June 9, 1992[33] – December 31, 1995 Mario M. Cuomo served out his term
Barbara Ann DeBuono early February 1995[34] – November 1, 1998[35] George E. Pataki resigned to become an executive in the New York Presbyterian Healthcare System
Dennis P. Whalen November 1, 1998 – June 1999 George E. Pataki acting[36]
Antonia C. Novello June 1999[37] – December 31, 2006 George E. Pataki served out her term
Richard F. Daines February 2007[38] – December 31, 2010[39] Eliot Spitzer, David Paterson served out his term
Nirav R. Shah January 24, 2011[40] – May 4, 2014 Andrew Cuomo resigned to become chief operating officer at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California[41]
Howard A. Zucker May 4, 2014 – May 5, 2015 (acting)
May 5, 2015[42] – current
Andrew Cuomo

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Public Health Law § 200. "There shall continue to be in the state government a department of health. The head of the department shall be the commissioner of health of the state of New York."
  2. ^ Public Health Law § 201
  3. ^ New York State Department of Health. "Commissioner biography"
  4. ^ a b c Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2001). Public Health's Infrastructure: A Status Report. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ a b c d New York State Public Health Council (December 2003). Strengthening New York's Public Health System for the 21st Century. OCLC 180188059.
  6. ^ New York State Public Health Council. NYS Department of Health 2018 Annual Report (PDF).
  7. ^ New York State Department of Health (1910). Thirtieth Annual report of the State Department of Health of New York for the year ending December 31, 1909. pp. 490–492. OCLC 1760127.
  8. ^ Chapter 74 of the Laws of 1866, volume 1, pages 114–144, enacted 26 February 1866, at § 5.
  9. ^ Chapter 137, Laws of 1870, enacted 5 April 1870, page 373, at § 30; and also page 388, at § 90 et seq.
  10. ^ Chapter 322 of the Laws of 1880, pages 465–468, enacted 18 May 1880, at § 13.
  11. ^ Chapter 29 of the Laws of 1901, pages 31–37, enacted 19 February 1901, at § 4.
  12. ^ "Nominations Confirmed". New York Times. March 7, 1901. p. 6. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  13. ^ "McMackin Out, Sherman In Child — Labor Committee Wins Fight — Homeopath for Health Board". New York Times. May 4, 1905. p. 5. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  14. ^ "Dr. Biggs Health Chief — Nominated for State Commissioner and Quickly Confirmed". New York Times. January 20, 1914. p. 6. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Dr. Hermann Biggs Dies of Pneumonia — State Commissioner of Health Stricken at His Camp in Adirondacks — Long Eminent In City — He Introduced Diphtheria Antitoxin in This Country and Was an Authority on Tuberculosis". New York Times. June 29, 1923. p. 17. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Dr. Nicoll Health Chief — Governor Smith Appoints Former Associate of Dr. Biggs". New York Times. July 13, 1923. p. 14. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  17. ^ "Dr. Nicoll Resigns State Health Post — Physician, Just Reappointed, Will Take the Place of Commissioner in Westchester — Will Form a County Unit — Free Hand Has Been Granted to Him to Organize Service — Praised by Governor Roosevelt". New York Times. January 12, 1930. p. 27. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Condemns Delaying State Building Bill — Governor Takes Republicans to Task for Holding Up Appropriation Two Months — Eleven Bills Approved — They Include an Addition to Workmen's Compensation Law — Two Measures Are Vetoed". New York Times. March 6, 1930. p. 5. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  19. ^ "Dr. Parran is Sworn In — He Becomes Surgeon General as Morgenthau Praises Record". New York Times. May 7, 1936. p. 18. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  20. ^ "Jury-Change Bill Killed at Albany — Proposal for Five-sixths Verdicts in Civil Suits Beaten in Senate After Attack — Injury Measures Lost — Byrn Proposals All Defeated — Godfrey Confirmed as State Health Commissioner". New York Times. April 22, 1936. p. 4. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  21. ^ "Dr. Godfrey Quits State Health Post — Retiring Commissioner Hails Freedom Given Him by Both Dewey and Lehman". New York Times. May 2, 1947. p. 26. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  22. ^ "Dr. Hilleboe Begins State Health Task — E.J. Donovan, D.H. Grant Enter Parole Board — MacCormack Assumes Standards Duties". New York Times. July 2, 1947. p. 24. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  23. ^ a b "Page 4 of a Summary of the News During Period of the New York Newspaper Strike". New York Times. April 1, 1963. p. 32. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  24. ^ "Miscellany — Herman E. Hilleboe, M.D.". Archives of Environmental Health: An International Journal. 12 (6): 786. 1966. doi:10.1080/00039896.1966.10664482.
  25. ^ a b "Carey Tours Two Agencies and Vows To Improve Health‐Care Monitoring". New York Times. January 3, 1975. p. 28. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  26. ^ "Hollis Ingraham, 86, Health Official". New York Times. June 2, 1994. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  27. ^ a b "Snag Develops in Albany On U.D.C. Fiscal Trouble - New Officials". New York Times. April 30, 1975. p. 41. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  28. ^ "Whalen Resigns As Health Chief". New York Times. December 2, 1978. p. 27. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  29. ^ McNeil, Jr., Donald G. (December 27, 1978). "3 Chemical Sites Near Love Canal Possible Hazard". New York Times. p. B1. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  30. ^ Sack, Kevin (April 18, 1991). "Axelrod Retires From Health Post". New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  31. ^ Sack, Kevin (February 27, 1991). "Health Commissioner Is in Intensive Care". New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  32. ^ "New York Health Care: Less Money, More Ills, No Chiefs". New York Times. June 1, 1991. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  33. ^ "Health Chief Is Confirmed After Long Delay". New York Times. June 10, 1992. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  34. ^ Fritsch, Jane (March 8, 1995). "State Regulators Review New York City's Public Hospitals". New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  35. ^ Fisher, Ian (July 29, 1998). "Health Commissioner Is Leaving". New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  36. ^ Hernandez, Raymond (May 27, 1999). "U.S. Lets New York Shift Most Poor to Managed Care". New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  37. ^ Levy, Clifford J. (June 19, 1999). "Albany Notes; A Longer Lobbying Law, But Not a Tougher One — Winning Over The Skeptics". New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  38. ^ Finn, Robin (February 2, 2007). "New Man in the Hot Seat of State Health Commissioner". New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  39. ^ Hartocollis, Anemona (March 2, 2011). "Richard F. Daines, 60, Ex-State Health Chief". New York Times. p. A23. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  40. ^ "Governor Cuomo Announces Health Commissioner Unanimously Confirmed by New York State Senate". Office of the Governor of New York. January 24, 2011. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  41. ^ "Press Release — Nirav Shah, MD, Joins Kaiser Permanente — Former New York State Health Commissioner to Lead Southern California Clinical Operations". Kaiser Permanente. May 5, 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  42. ^ "New York State Senate Standing Committee on Health - Preliminary Legislative Highlights 2015 Legislative Session" (PDF). New York State Senate. July 2015. p. 6. Retrieved 9 February 2017.

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