Presented by Mitchell Katz, MD, president and chief executive office of NYC Health + Hospitals, on August 8, 2018, in a Board of Health nomination hearing held by the Rules Committee of the New York City Council:
Good morning. I am Dr. Mitchell Katz. Thank you to Chair Koslowitz, Speaker Johnson, and the members of the Rules Committee for considering my nomination to the Board of Health.
I was born in Brooklyn New York and am a product of the NYC public schools. I went to medical school to be a primary care doctor. I attended medical school and completed a medical residency in the worst years of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, a city hit as hard by the epidemic as New York City. The AIDS epidemic thrust me into leadership roles in the San Francisco Department of Public Health where with colleagues we publicly funded needle exchange despite the fact that California at the time had a law against dispensing syringes without a prescription. I ran the San Francisco Department of Public Health for 13 years and was proudest of creating the first universal health access program, Healthy San Francisco, housing 1300 homeless persons suffering from physical or mental illness, and rebuilding our two hospitals.
I left San Francisco to run the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, the second largest public health system in the country. There my team expanded primary care, housed over 4000 homeless persons suffering from illness, and created My Health LA, a health access program for low-income uninsured persons. During my last two years, we created a Health Agency to integrate the functions of health services, categorical public health, and mental health services so as to deliver better services to individuals and programs to the community.
I was honored to be asked to return to my hometown of New York City to run Health + Hospitals. It is an amazing organization that cares for the neediest and most vulnerable New Yorkers. We run 11 acute care hospitals, 5 skilled nursing facilities, and provide ambulatory care in 70 other locations.
Throughout my career, I have practiced both inpatient and outpatient medicine. I am currently seeing primary care patients at Gouverneur. I also receive my health care at Health and Hospitals as testimony of my belief of the quality of our health services.I believe that the tools of health service and public health are synergistic in improving the health of a city. Health + Hospitals meets the pressing needs of New Yorkers for health care. Because we serve primarily vulnerable populations we have special insight into the disparities that engulf our society. Public Health, through its tools of epidemiology and assessment, health education and promotion, community engagement and intervention, sanitation, program development, and regulation, can prevent health problems as well as develop community-wide solutions to health problems.