Dr. Mary T. Bassett is the Commissioner of Health for New York City, a position she assumed in February 2014. With more than 30 years of experience in public health, Dr. Bassett has dedicated her career to advancing health equity.
Dr. Julie Morita was appointed as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) in early 2015; under Dr. Morita’s leadership, CDPH developed and launched Healthy Chicago 2.0, a four-year plan to assure health equity by addressing the social determinants of health.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer leads the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health which protects and promotes health and prevents disease among L.A. County’s more than 10 million residents. Dr. Ferrer has over three decades of experience as a philanthropic strategist, public health director, researcher, and community advocate.
President Trump’s declaration of opioids as a public health emergency left jurisdictions across the country – including New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, the cities and county we serve as health commissioners and director – scrambling to understand the actual impact that this legal action will have on our response to an alarming increase in drug overdose deaths. In our cities, 2,650 people died last year of a drug overdose, the largest number on record.
Given the public health emergency designation, answers to three basic questions will determine the significance of this action: How much funding for public health responses will states and cities actually be able to access to support a long-term response to this deadly epidemic; how those dollars can be used; and for how long new funds will be available.