Northborough health director resigns

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Northborough Health Agent Kristin Black
Northborough Health Agent Kristin Black
Photo/submitted

Update: This article has been updated with a comment from Katrina Ireland-Bilodeau.

NORTHBOROUGH – Northborough Health Director Kristin Black has handed in her notice of resignation.

“On paper, you were above and beyond all of the other choices when we first got your resume in and your curriculum vitae,” said Board of Health Chair Glenn French during the board’s Dec. 19 meeting. “You’ve far exceeded that.”

Black told the Board of Health that she will be joining the Massachusetts Department of Public Health overseeing their shared services unit, which provides grants to pay for Health Agent Michael Seager and Epidemiologist Isabella Caruso.

“I’ll be watching and looking over and ensuring the continuation and success and support at a state level,” she said.

Town Administrator Tim McInerney announced Black’s resignation, along with the Northborough Free Library Children’s Librarian Katrina Ireland-Bilodeau, during the Dec. 18 Select Board meeting.

Ireland-Bilodeau told the Community Advocate that she will be heading to Ashland Public Library to serve as their Director of Youth Services/Assistant Library Director.

“It has been an honor and a delight to serve the children and families of Northborough. I will miss every single one of the folks I’ve met here! This library has a wonderful program that is truly people-focused, and I hope that the community continues to see it as a second home, a place to connect with friends, and a place to learn and grow,” she said.

She added, “And if you’re ever near Ashland, come say hello!”

During the Board of Health meeting, McInerney said he wasn’t happy about the resignation, but he was happy for her. 

RELATED CONTENT: Northborough welcomes new Health Agent Kristin Black

“She’s been a great asset, and it’ll be tough. But, we’ll rely on you when we need to, and I want you to know you can rely on me as well if there are things that the board needs information-wise to make the best decisions possible,” he said. “I want to be here as a resource to serve you.” 

Black told the Board of Health that she couldn’t speak more highly of the board and how welcoming the community was.

“I think we’ve done great things. I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made in the last three years since I’ve been here,” she said. “I’m very confident in the team we’ve put in place.”

After serving as the health director in Uxbridge, Black joined Northborough in October 2020 during the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. She helped organize COVID-19 vaccination clinics, and was a frequent presence at Select Board meetings to update the board on the pandemic. 

Recently, her work has included helping newly arrived families from Haiti and Colombia. 

Family and Youth Services

Behind-the-scenes, the town has been working on the future of Northborough Family and Youth Services (NFYS). According to Black, June David-Fors, the NFYS director, retired in September, and her position hasn’t been refilled or reposted.

“One of the things we’re finding in the world of human services is it’s really hard to hire,” Black said.

Under the Family and Youth Services budget, there’s a part-time counselor position, which she said the town has been unsuccessful in filling for over two years.

Black has been working with the town administrator to restaff. Health and NFYS are two “very small” departments.

“We are underfunded in Northborough’s general fund,” she said.

It has been solved with grant funding, but Black said the goal wasn’t to wait for a grant to keep public health services. 

She recalled telling former interim Town Administrator Mike Gallagher that she was happy to help solve and fill in with NFYS absence. 

“I’m not doing this forever. It has been a strain on me personally, professionally and the department, and the town needs to solve it,” she said. “I said, ‘You have to solve this by Town Meeting.’”

The NFYS budget, she said, is sitting there. 

Black worked with Gallagher to put out a request for proposals for a consultant to review the needs of health and human services in Northborough and present a plan to meet the needs of town departments and the community in time for Town Meeting. 

Once consideration, she said, was to merge health and human services. The strategic assessment for this model kicked off Dec. 20 with a meeting with key department heads and McInerney.

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