DHHS appoints director of new health equity office


The Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday that it is hiring Ian Yaffe to be the first director of the Population Health Equity Office of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

At the heart of Yaffe’s work is the implementation of a $ 32 million federal grant awarded to the Maine CDC in June to address health disparities linked to COVID-19 and advance health equity among underserved populations at high risk. This includes racial and ethnic minority groups and people living in rural communities, the DHHS said in a written statement.

As of June 2020, Maine had the nation’s largest racial disparity in coronavirus cases, with statistics showing members of the state’s small but growing black communities were contracting COVID-19 at a rate more than 20 times greater than that of white residents.

Yaffe is now the COO of the DHHS COVID-19 Social Support Program. He was selected for his new role following a nationwide search, according to DHHS. In his current role, he oversees the agency’s work to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate COVID-19 services, including contact tracing, testing, quarantine and isolation support, and vaccination, including emphasizing collaboration with community organizations.

Yaffe begins his new position on Sept. 7 with a salary of $ 91,374, according to the agency.

From 2010 to March 2021, Yaffe led Mano en Mano, a state-wide nonprofit organization serving immigrant and farm worker communities through education supports, health, housing and advocacy. Yaffe also serves in the US Coast Guard Reserve as Chief Boatswain’s Mate. He holds a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Arts from Bowdoin College.

“The Office of Population Health Equity is essential to our goal of advancing the health of all people in Maine and strengthening our relationships with communities facing disparities in Maine,” said the Commissioner of Maine. DHHS, Jeanne Lambrew, in a statement. “Ian Yaffe has helped us build and strengthen these relationships through his COVID-19 social support role and will now lead our vital work to reduce inequalities in Maine’s health and public health systems by addressing the issues underlying factors that contribute to these disparities. “

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said the new office will aim to “remove the barriers that limit the full potential of all people in Maine to lead healthy, safe, and rich lives of opportunity.”

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