Tina Trenkner is the Deputy Editor for GOVERNING.com. She edits the Technology and Health newsletters.E-mail: email@example.com
When Dr. Oxiris Barbot took over as the medical director of New York City’s Office of School Health in 2003, she became responsible for the health of 1.1 million students. Seven years later, the nation’s largest public school system successfully managed an H1N1 flu scare and implemented an electronic health record system, reducing delays in accessing student information and allowing health workers to better target child health problems.
Barbot, who began her life in the Bronx, was exposed to medicine early. As a girl, her mother took Barbot to her college science classes, where she assisted with science experiments. This, coupled with her mother’s encouragement, led to Barbot becoming a doctor. A graduate of Yale University and the New Jersey Medical School, Barbot started as commissioner of the Baltimore City Health Department in August 2010. The city fares worse than the rest of Maryland and many parts of the country on almost every major health indicator, ranging from heart disease to asthma.
As the city’s health commissioner, Barbot plans to implement an electronic health record system in Baltimore’s public schools. In addition, she intends to address obesity and infant mortality, reduce the number of new HIV cases and increase the number of individuals receiving substance abuse treatment.
One of the challenges and opportunities Barbot sees in addressing these concerns is having the community recognize connections between health issues and social determinants of health, like a lack of supermarkets. “Health is a really complex matter that doesn’t just involve our doctors or our clinics,” Barbot says, “but all aspects of society.”