Mahaffey takes reins of NY Health Department public affairs

Monica Mahaffey is serving as acting director of the New York State Department of Health's public affairs group after Bill Schwarz left the role.

NEW YORK: Monica Mahaffey has succeeded Bill Schwarz as acting director of the New York State Department of Health’s public affairs group after he departed to join the state office of the Medicaid inspector general as director of public information.

The transition took place at the end of September, when Wanda Fischer, former director of public information in the Medicaid inspector general’s office, retired. The office is an independent entity within the New York State Department of Health.

Mahaffey, who in her previous position as associate director of the New York State Department of Health’s public affairs group reported to Schwarz, now reports to executive deputy commissioner of health Sue Kelly.

In her new role, she is overseeing communications for the department and handling press calls, press releases, the department’s website, marketing, and social media. She said the organization has not yet determined if her new role is temporary or permanent.

"We have so much going on and have been so focused on the work here with Ebola and other duties, that we haven’t discussed the changes in-depth," Mahaffey said.

Schwarz is reporting to deputy Medicaid inspector general Mark Hennessey in his new role.

Schwarz is tasked with growing awareness and enhancing the integrity of the New York State Medicaid program. He oversees duties related to communications, press relations, and social media.

"When [Fischer] retired, I saw an opportunity and that is why I moved into this role," said Schwarz. "It is an important agency, and I look forward to contributing to the effort."  

Prior to joining the Department of Health in April, Mahaffey served as assistant director of government affairs for Stony Brook University Medical Center. Before that, she was senior director of government and public affairs for VNR Home Care Services, director of government affairs for the Healthcare Association of New York State, and director of communications for Albany County, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Schwarz has worked at the Health Department since 2012. Previously, he was VP of agency Zone 5, EVP of creative firm Bresette + Company, director of communications for corporate and government relations at Union College in Schenectady, New York, and manager of global communications for GE Energy, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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