Mitchell Katz will leave Los Angeles County Health Agency to head cash-strapped NYC Health + Hospitals

During his tenure with the LA Department of Health Services, Mitchell Katz, M.D., eliminated the agency’s $270 million budget deficit.

Mitchell Katz, M.D., director of the Los Angeles County Health Agency, will leave the country’s second-largest public healthcare system to become the new chief executive of the nation’s largest public health system.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tapped Katz to oversee the city’s public hospitals, clinics and nursing homes, the Wall Street Journal reports, but the NYC Health + Hospitals board must still approve the appointment. Mitchell announced his departure to the Board of Supervisors of the LA County healthcare system on Friday and notified staff on Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Katz has worked with the LA Department of Health Services for seven years and two years ago became director of the Los Angeles County Health Agency, a newly created agency that combined the departments of Health Services, Public Health, and Mental Health into a single organization in order to provide more integrated care and programming within Los Angeles.

During his tenure, he eliminated the agency’s $270 million budget deficit by increasing revenues and cutting administrative expenses. Now the city of New York hopes he can do the same for it. NYC Health + Hospitals faces a $1.8 billion budget gap in 2020, and the mayor launched a plan to move the system from an inpatient model to an outpatient model. Katz told the WSJ he intends to continue that work.

The hospital system has been without a permanent CEO since Ran Raju's resignation in November. The system has been led in the meantime on an interim basis by Stanley Brezenoff, who was the head of the system in the 1980s.

Katz told the LA Times that the move to New York in January will allow him to help care for his elderly parents. “I’m incredibly sad,” he said. “I love Los Angeles County. It’s been extremely good to me, I’ve had only positive experiences and I’m incredibly proud of how different the Department of Health Services is today than it was seven years ago.”

A primary care doctor, Katz continued to see patients in LA and hopes to do the same when he moves to New York.

In the meantime, county representatives told the LA Times that it will be difficult to fill his role. “It’s an incredible loss to the county,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl told the publication. “[He has] so increased the professionalism, outreach and treatment modalities in every aspect of public health … and strengthened all three departments while allowing them to remain unique in their missions.”