Steven E. Katz, a psychiatrist who was the last physician to lead the New York State mental health system, died at his home in Yarmouth, Maine January 29, 2018. He was 80. Dr. Katz had a highly diversified career in health care, but is most recognized for his contribution to the public mental health system.
Dr. Katze cameeH to public attention while serving as the Medical Director of the Department of Psychiatry at the height of the first epidemic of homelessness in New York since the civil war. Identified by the New York State Civil Service Employees Association as a visionary of impeccable principles he was chosen to lead the then massive, but outmoded New York State mental health system. As the Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health under the newly elected Governor Mario M. Cuomo, Dr. Katz’s administration quickly redesigned a dormant program of community residence beds leading to the development of 6000 new beds over the next several years. Subsequent accomplishments included the creation of a new housing model for residential care for the mentally ill, the Residential Care Center for Adults, broad based acceptance and adoption of a Ten Year Plan to Reconfigure the New York State Mental Health System and introduction of the legislation which led to the opening of the Lawrence C. Kolb Building at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. When Dr. Katz retired from state service Governor Mario Cuomo said, “When you came to Albany you didn’t know where to find the bathroom, but you did the job magnificently”. A consummate teacher he led by example and had a unique ability to achieve consensus among highly diverse constituencies.
Born to the late Ben & Charlotte (Tomkins) Katz, August 10, 1937 and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Katz received a BA from Cornell University, Ithaca New York and his MD from Hahnemann University, Philadelphia (Drexel University College of Medicine). After a medical internship at Montefiore Hospital, Bronx New York he served in the United States Army during the Vietnam era. As an‘an-the-job trained’ psychiatrist in the military, he subsequently received his formal training in psychiatry at Columbia University -The New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Katz is also a graduate of the Columbia University Psychoanalytic Center and maintained a private practice throughout his career.
Dr. Katz initially focused on consultation-liaison psychiatry at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, but soon moved to the Roosevelt Hospital, New York, New York as the Director of Education and Training in Psychiatry and subsequently was the Associate Director of Psychiatry at the same institution. In 1978 he went to New York University (NYU Langone Health) where he became Medical Director of the Department of Psychiatry at Bellevue Hospital Center. On leaving state service in 1987, Dr. Katz returned to New York University as Director of Psychiatry, Bellevue Hospital, Professor and Executive Vice-Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine and Director of Health Policy, York University Medical Center. In 1994 he moved to Maine to become the Executive Vice-President and Medical Director at the Jackson Brook Institute, South Portland, Maine and rose to fill several positions in the parent corporation, Community Care Systems of Wellesley, Massachusetts. He also held positions as the Associate Medical Director for Mental Health and Health Care for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care of Northern New England, Chair, Department of Psychiatry, Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, New London, Connecticut, and Executive Director, The Neuropathy Association, New York, New York. During his career, Dr. Katz held academic appointments at Columbia University, New York University, Albany Medical College and the University of Vermont School Of Medicine.
Dr. Steven E. Katz is survived by his wife Marjorie, the former Marjorie Billstein, and his children, Barri Katz Stryer of Pacific Palisades, California, John & Stacey Herron of Croton-on-Hudson, New York and four grand children Leah, Adam, Kaleigh & Brianna.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Dr. Steven E. Katz’s honor may be sent to www.samcozenfund.org,
The Michael Wolk Heart Foundation, Inc. 876 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10075, the u.c.l.a. foundation-george bartzokis fund for innovative research