NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett stepping down to join Harvard
The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett, is leaving for a job at Harvard at the end of the month.
The bailout comes as the Department of Investigation is looking into why Bassett’s agency failed to send reports to the New York City Housing Authority about kids with elevated lead levels in their blood.
But Bassett told PoliticoNY, which first reported her departure, that she was approached by Harvard several months ago about two roles at its school of public health.
She insisted the DOI probe had nothing to do with her move to academia.
Harvard officials confirmed that the negotiations began a number of months ago.
Bassett, 65, joined the administration when Mayor de Blasio was first elected in January 2014, and has overseen a relatively well-regarded health agency through several crises, including an Ebola scare.
But a scathing Manhattan US Attorney’s office complaint against NYCHA over it woeful response to lead paint hazards in apartments with young children also ensnared the Health Department.
The complaint noted that between 2010 and 2015, health officials found 202 children living in NYCHA with blood lead levels of 10 micrograms per deciliter or higher — the threshold at which the health agency is supposed to inspect the apartments.
But 81 of the apartments were not visited, the complaint said.
The Health Department and City Hall have refused to answer questions from The Post about that inspection lapse for nearly 3 weeks.
The federal complaint also said health officials issued false statements just weeks after top public housing and City Hall officials learned that NYCHA hadn’t been conducting required annual inspections of apartments for lead paint hazards between August 2012 and April 2016.
In a June 12, 2016 joint fact sheet about lead inspections at NYCHA, health officials claimed that “prevention and abatement efforts at NYCHA properties are an unqualified success.”
The federal complaint noted that at the time, “NYCHA officials knew that NYCHA had failed to conduct mandatory visual assessments under federal and local law.”
It added that “senior NYCHA officials knew that NYCHA’s prevention efforts were far from ‘success[ful].’”