Maine CDC announces hiring of director to address health equity

 

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced today that Ian Yaffe will serve as director for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office of Population Health Equity (OPHE), a newly established office devoted to identifying and addressing health disparities throughout Maine.   

“The Office of Population Health Equity is critical to our goal of advancing the health of all Maine people and strengthening our relationships with communities experiencing disparities across Maine,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. 

““We’re pleased to welcome Ian Yaffe to lead our newly established Office of Population Health Equity, which will lead us in removing barriers that limit the full potential of all Maine people to lead healthy, safe, and opportunity-rich lives. Maine CDC is committed to advancing the health of Maine people who have long faced unacceptable inequities, including the disparities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine CDC. 

“I’m honored to be selected for this role and to deepen relationships and partnerships with community leaders and organizations that are central to advancing health equity across Maine,” said  Yaffe. “Together, we will promote health equity through a clear commitment to illuminating and addressing root causes of health disparities as well as implementing community-led solutions .” 

In his new role as Director of OPHE, Yaffe will lead data-driven interventions to advance health equity for a number of populations, including but not limited to racial and ethnic populations, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, individuals with disabilities, and other groups. He will work in partnership with stakeholders to ensure the Department’s efforts are informed by and reflect the needs of the communities we seek to serve and collaborate with leaders across Maine CDC and DHHS, including the Department’s Manager of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, to coordinate a variety of health equity projects and initiatives. 

Central to this work is the implementation of a $32 million federal grant awarded to Maine CDC in June to address COVID-19-related health disparities and advance health equity among underserved populations at higher risk, including racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities. While Maine has already reduced racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 transmission, Maine CDC will advance this work through the grant by improving community COVID-19 testing, expanding and improving data collection, developing state and regional health equity infrastructure to better capture community input on public health activities, and mobilizing community partners to advance healthy equity over the long-term.  

 While the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need to address health disparities in Maine and across the country, OPHE’s work will extend well beyond the boundaries of the pandemic, from chronic disease prevention and treatment to environmental health and public health systems. The Department will work to expand sources of funding and build a team within OPHE, Maine CDC, and the entire Department to advance this critical work. 

Yaffe will begin his new role September 7, 2021.