Maureen Richichi: Board of Health

March 4, 2024
Maureen Richichi is a candidate for reelection on the Board of Health.

Maureen Richichi joined the Board of Health in 2021, as the entire world was still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. And although much has returned to normal since then, she stressed that “we are still deep in COVID.

“The impact and the effects it had on the community are going to be long-standing,” Richichi said. “The board has work to do to restore the trust we might have lost with part of the population.

“Our mission focuses on looking after the needs of all residents, especially the vulnerable,” she said, and that means loneliness, isolation, and disparities in health care. “COVID had a huge impact on people’s sense of belonging, of community. I think there were fractures,” over the classic confrontation of individual rights vs. the public good.

Richichi, a retired school nurse, has championed later start times for middle and high school students’ school day, which the Board of Health has endorsed and sent to the School Committee. 

“The science is so absolutely clear on this,” she said. “One of the big benefits is more sleep, which helps decrease depression and anxiety.”

The transition would take at least a year, she pointed out, because so many variables are affected: contracts with educators and transportation, child-care arrangements, after-school activities. “This is not a non-disruptive process. Change never is.” 

At some point, Richichi predicted, state government will mandate revised start times. 

“My sense of Bedford is we like to do things our way and engage all the stakeholders so this is a positive win-win for everybody. It’s a no-brainer for me. We’ve got to do this for the kids.”

Richichi also spoke in support of the board’s gun violence prevention initiative. The concerns are not just mass shootings, but also suicide and domestic violence prevention, she said. 

“How do we protect vulnerable people? That’s what public health is all about.” 

The program addresses safe gun storage and how families can talk honestly with each other about the issues.

She is also looking for more opportunities – such as the upcoming comprehensive planning process – “to engage people. Every board has to be thinking: ‘How do we hear people’s voices?’ That diminishes mistrust and division. 

“Sometimes I can be a big-picture person,” Richichi continued, recalling how she and Ronnie Gould more than 30 years ago spearheaded a grass-roots project to finance and construct what is now the children’s playground on the center campus. “We need a process to engage people post-COVID, leading up to the town’s 300th anniversary – a visioning process, asking, ‘What do we want to be as a community, and how do we get there?’

“I really appreciate and respect the people on the board, and I have much admiration for (Health Director) Heidi Porter and her staff,” Richichi said. “It’s a really rich experience because of what they bring to the table, their perspective and guidance.” 

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