Dr. Monica Bharel named senior advisor to Boston Mayor

Indian American helped steer Massachusetts through Covid-19 pandemic

Dr. Monica Bharel, who helped steer Massachusetts through the Covid-19 pandemic as commissioner of the Department of Public Health, has been named cabinet-level senior advisor to new Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

In her new role, Indian American public health expert Bharel will lead Boston’s response to the intersecting crises of substance use disorder, mental health, public safety and homelessness in the area around known as Mass and Cass.

“The humanitarian crisis at Mass and Cass demands urgent, bold solutions that create genuine pathways to recovery and stability for our most vulnerable residents — and we need the right team to get it done,” Wu said announcing Bharel’s appointment.

Bharel was one of three cabinet appointments announced by Wu six days before she was sworn in on Nov 16.

“This ongoing crisis of substance use disorder, mental health issues, and homelessness requires a coordinated response from government, service providers, and our communities,” Bharel said.

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“Mayor-elect Wu is committed to working with our state and regional partners to secure the lasting public health-led solutions that this moment demands and our residents deserve,” she said.

Bharel, who served the Department of Public Health for six years, stepped down in June after overseeing the department’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic including data analysis, guidance development, mitigation strategies and the vaccine equity initiative.

Earlier, she served as the Chief Medical Officer of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, the largest nonprofit health care organization for homeless individuals in the US.

In the public service sector, Dr. Bharel was a gubernatorial appointment to the Behavioral Health and Primary Care Integration Task Force under the Massachusetts health care payment reform initiative, according to her official bio.

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She has also participated on the Massachusetts Medicaid payment reform policy committee and Primary Care Payment Reform Initiative operations committee.

Additionally, she served on the National Quality Forum expert panel on Risk Adjustment for Socioeconomic Status. Dr. Bharel has served on the faculty of Boston University Medical School, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health.

She received her Master of Public Health degree through the Commonwealth Fund/Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy, with a concentration in health care policy and management in 2012.

She received her medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine in 1994 and in 1998 completed a residency and chief residency in internal medicine at Boston City Hospital/Boston Medical Center.

Read: Boston Mayor-Elect Michelle Wu Appoints Dr. Monica Bharel as Cabinet-Level Senior Advisor (November 12, 2021)

Her areas of interest include preventive health care and chronic disease management for underserved populations through system- based improvements.

Her areas of research have included cervical cancer screening in homeless women, treatment of alcohol use among homeless women, and hepatitis C in vulnerable populations.

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