HUDSON – Four public health workers will begin their tenure with the Hudson Health Department in the next two months thanks to funding from a combination of health grants.
Each of their three-year-long appointments, which are on behalf of the Hudson Board of Health and the MetroWest Shared Public Services Group, were approved at a Select Board meeting on Nov. 29.
Positions funded through grants
William Murphy, who has served as the director of public health for the town of Sudbury for over seven years, joined the Hudson Health Department as its regional health inspector on Nov. 30.
Jessica Twardowski will begin her appointment as regional public health nurse for Hudson on Monday, Dec. 13.
Manizeh Afridi, who has a master’s degree in public health from the New York University School of Global Public Health, will join as the town’s epidemiologist next month, starting work on Monday, Jan. 3.
Pooja Shelke, a teaching assistant at the UMass Lowell Public Health Department, will also join as an epidemiologist for Hudson later in January, on Friday, Jan. 21.
All four positions are fully funded by the Public Health Excellence Grant and the Contact Tracing and Case Investigation Grant according to Director of Public and Community Health Kelli Calo.
COVID-19 continues to challenge health departments
All these hires come amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has increased stress on public health workers especially during various peaks and surges in coronavirus cases.
“I do try to sleep,” Calo told the Community Advocate in November of last year.
That, though, was not always happening, she said.
Sam Wong was Hudson’s Health Director for nearly two decades before he took a job in Framingham in 2017. He formally resigned earlier this year, though, citing a variety of factors in his decision making.
“I’m exhausted,” he said in an interview with the MetroWest Daily News back in January. “I’m physically, mentally and even sometimes spiritually exhausted. I have given everything I’ve got for the city for the past 10 months and then some, and it has taken a toll on my health and it is to the point where I have to take a step back.”
In Hopkinton, meanwhile, Public Health Nurse Kasey Mauro announced her resignation in June.
“This past 1.5 years has challenged me in so many ways that I was not anticipating when I accepted the position,” she wrote in a letter. “It was my goal to leave the bedside and hospital nursing to be able to enjoy my family, have weekends off and a normal sleep schedule. However, in a pandemic, public health nursing is anything but those things. It is busy, chaotic and the workload is relentless.”
Hudson has recently made changes in its Health Department, pulling out of an intermunicipal agreement with Maynard in September as services in that community became “a burden.”
It’s now further looking to money available through the federal American Rescue Plan Act to possibly pay for expanded office space to house these new hires as they begin work in the coming weeks.