Hudson grant will boost regional public health infrastructure

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By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer

Hudson town iconHUDSON – The Town of Hudson and its partner communities will expand their health staff significantly thanks to a grant from the state Department of Public Health. 

Hudson will receive $300,000 annually for two years to support its COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing program. The funds come through a request for local health support that Hudson submitted. The grant program will run through June 30, 2023. 

The contract between the state and the town requires that Hudson hire new staff and meet a list of policy goals. Those goals include investigating laboratory-confirmed cases and case clusters among residents, identifying close contacts of positive cases, communicating with impacted individuals and supporting social services for victims.

Consequently, Hudson will hire four new, full-time positions and one new part-time position. The positions are all related to public health, with all but one bearing responsibilities addressing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The hiring itself will be conducted by the MetroWest Shared Public Health Services Group, a consortium of eight municipalities that includes Hudson, Ashland, Holliston, Maynard, Milford, Millis, Natick, and the city of Framingham. 

A Regional Public Health Nurse will organize and administer clinics related to immunizations, including COVID-19 and influenza. They will also work to address noninfectious conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. 

They will collect data, collaborate with local health departments and councils on aging, formulate community needs assessments and conduct public education. 

This position will be filled with a registered, licensed nurse (RN). 

An epidemiologist will perform data analytics and tracking work related to public health, especially COVID-19 contact tracing. They help develop public educational materials and investigate how different segments of residents have been affected by the pandemic. These findings will inform decisions and policies made to combat COVID-19 and other public health problems. 

A Regional Public Health Inspector will be tasked with responding to unsanitary or unsafe conditions, including but not limited to food and fire safety. They will enforce state and municipal ordinances and perform inspections. The Regional Public Health Inspector will also respond to complaints about hoarding.

A part-time Regional Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Program Assistant will focus specifically on reducing underage drinking and drug use. They will work under the existing Program Coordinator and support their goals related to public education, community support and grant pursuit. 

Finally, a Shared Services Coordinator will provide administrative support to all these and existing roles. They will monitor staff activities, develop stakeholder relationships, and support grant applications and other fundraising. They will report to the MetroWest Shared Public Health Services Group board and lead public health staff meetings. 

The positions will be based in the Hudson Health Department. All five positions are non-union and fully grant-funded. If additional funding is not secured by the time the grants expire in June 2023, the positions may cease to exist.