Governor nominates Siena grad as new health commisioner

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Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday the nomination of Dr. James V. McDonald to serve as commissioner of the state Department of Health. McDonald has served as New York’s acting commissioner of health since Jan. 1. McDonald is a Cohoes native and received his bachelor’s degree from Siena College.

“In the midst of unprecedented public health crises, the New York State Department of Health has done extraordinary work keeping New Yorkers safe and healthy,” Gov. Hochul said. “Dr. James V. McDonald is a talented public health leader with the skills and experience necessary to lead our Department of Health,”  

“I am deeply grateful to Gov. Hochul for her confidence in me, and I look forward to working closely with my Department of Health colleagues to continue to deliver for New Yorkers.”  McDonald said.

He joined the sate Department of Health in July, serving as medical director of the department’s Office of Public Health. He later was appointed interim director of the Center for Community Health and began serving as acting commissioner of health on Jan. 1. 

Before returning to New York, McDonald spent a decade at the Rhode Island Department of Health, where he served in multiple roles, including interim director of health. He was also a member of the governor’s task force on preventing overdose deaths. He is board certified in pediatrics as well as preventive medicine.  

His career includes serving as an officer in the U.S. Navy, as well as private practice in rural areas with health care shortages. McDonald also served in the Indian Health Service in the Navajo Nation, serving as medical director of outpatient medicine.

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