State Health Commissioner Visited Western New York to Meet with Local Health Care Leaders

Three-day trip Included Stops in Buffalo, Rochester, Batavia, Ellicottville, and Olean

Photos of the Commissioner's visit can be found HERE

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 16, 2023) – New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald this week kicked off a statewide tour planned for the months ahead with a three-day trip to Western New York. During the tour, the newly confirmed commissioner met with local health department leaders, regional hospital executives, health care workers, educators, doulas, community-based health care providers, and public health program organizers.

"I enjoy meeting and getting to know people. New York is a very diverse state, with different health challenges and opportunities. I enjoy hearing from the people across the state who spend every day working on the front lines of health care," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "My goal with these trips is to cultivate strong relationships with our local public health leaders and to take what I learn to inform the work we do and the priorities we focus on at the Department of Health. The more we know about and understand the challenges at the local level, the better we can help improve everyone's health across New York State."

In meetings with local health care leaders, Commissioner McDonald heard firsthand about regional challenges related to the workforce shortages, health equity, rural health care delivery, and gun violence, and he spoke of how strong local partnerships across the continuum strengthen public health programs. At an event with doulas, the commissioner highlighted Governor Hochul's investments in this year's budget that will encourage the use of doulas and other prenatal care to help reduce rates of maternal mortality. And, at an event with Buffalo SNUG, a violence prevention initiative, the commissioner spoke with community leaders about the state's work dealing with gun violence as a public health threat.

At various stops on the tour, Commissioner McDonald met with local health department leaders from the Department's Western New York Region, encompassing 17 counties in Western New York and the western portions of the Southern Tier. In addition, the commissioner and his team visited at two State Department of Health regional offices and met with local staff, including individuals who handle everything from emergency preparedness and response efforts, to public health surveillance work, and nursing home inspections.

Commissioner McDonald also visited veterans at the New York State Veterans Home at Batavia, a nursing home facility serving veterans in the western region of New York State.

"Visiting with our veterans was certainly a highlight for everyone involved," State Health Department Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner Megan Baldwin said. "It gives us great pride to care for people who have given and sacrificed so much for our country."

At one of his final stops on the tour, Commissioner McDonald served as the keynote speaker at the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Cattaraugus County Health Department. In all, the commissioner's trip took him to stops in four counties, including:

  • University of Rochester Medical Center at Strong Memorial Hospital
  • Common Ground Health in Rochester
  • Calming Nature Doula in Buffalo
  • Jericho Road Community Center in Buffalo
  • The SNUG Gun Violence Awareness Program in Buffalo
  • Erie County Medical Center
  • The WNY Public Health Alliance meeting in Ellicottville
  • The 100th Anniversary Cattaraugus County Health Department Celebration in Ellicottville.
  • Olean General Hospital in Cattaraugus County

In the coming months, the Commissioner plans to continue visiting communities around the state to learn about the public health challenges and opportunities facing NYS.