The director of the Bedford Health and Human Services Department informed the Board of Health at its meeting this week about some comings and goings in her department.
Heidi Porter said a new assistant director will be on board in a few weeks. She also reported that Julie Genova, the town’s public health nurse since February 2022, has decided to return to school nursing. Her last day in the office will be on Monday.
Porter said in an interview on Thursday that the new assistant is scheduled to begin work on July 10. She said she won’t announce the name or other details until all aspects of the employment agreement are final.
The position has been vacant since late March when Katharine Dagle began work as training coordinator for the state Department of Public Health.
Filling in as an inspector is Noah Southard, a recent graduate of Temple University who plans to pursue an advanced degree in public health. Southard was an intern in the department last summer; Porter said he not only has experience but also successful online training.
Genova was a school nurse for several years at Fenn School in Concord, and Porter said Thursday she is returning to that profession, this time around the corner at Concord Academy. “She has been a great addition to the department,” the director said.
Porter acknowledged that demand exceeds supply not only for nurses but for all employees. “It’s difficult to find talented folks and folks with experience,” she said.
The director is promoting the advantages of working for a municipality, such as consistent hours and a more relaxed environment.
Many responsibilities of the public health nurse will be handled by professionals from other towns in the Great Meadows Public Health Region collaborative, Porter said. These tasks will include communicable disease reviews, planning for fall clinics, and other community health needs, the director said.
“We also have our volunteer corps, which has been so helpful for many years,” Porter added.
Besides Bedford, the Great Meadows grouping comprises Carlisle, Concord, Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland, and Weston. Structured under an interagency agreement and funded by state grants, the collaborative, in its third year, results from a state task force calling for regionalization to improve some services. “They wanted us to work together to solve problems and fill in gaps,” Porter said, including staffing.