A dozen local health and community leaders have been assembled to help the city ensure equal access to health care, including next spring’s expected rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine for the general public.
Mayor James J. Fiorentini formally named the Mayor’s Public Health Task Force Tuesday. He tells WHAV his first priority.
“The first task is to do everything we can to make certain as many people in Haverhill get the vaccine as possible once it becomes public which won’t be probably until June at the earliest. Perhaps, as early as April, but I don’t think so,” he says.
The mayor says it is possible the state will manage the vaccine rollout, but he doesn’t want the city to be unprepared. Either way, he notes, he has a larger purpose in mind for the new task force.
“But, then, I want the Task Force to continue and give the city advice on how we can best make certain that everyone in the city has good access to healthcare,” he notes.
Fiorentini appointed residents with health care backgrounds, those working with the needy and representatives of the city’s major private health care providers including Holy Family Hospital, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Pentucket Medical and Trinity EMS. The group met informally for the first time last week.
Among those appointed to a one-year term are Craig Jesiolowski, president, and William Goodman, chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs, both of Holy Family Hospital; John Chemaly, president, Trinity EMS; Richard Napolitano, senior vice president, and Rafael De La Cruz, resident, both of Greater Lawrence Family Health Center; Garrett Bomba, chief physician executive, Pentucket Medical; City Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien; Haverhill Public Health Nurse Mary Connolly; Sara Switzer, resident, Pfizer Pharmaceutical; Carmenza Bruff, resident, Dana Farber Cancer Institute; Nomsa Ncube, resident, Somebody Cares New England; and Keith Boucher, resident, MakeIT Haverhill.
Greater Lawrence Family Health Center recently opened Haverhill Family Health Center at 755 Main St., Haverhill.
The new panel does not replace Fiorentini’s earlier Medical Advisory Panel. That board continues to advise the city on coronavirus issues. The mayor said he will name a chairman of the new board in the near future.
This month, Massachusetts began the first round of COVID-19 vaccine shipments of roughly 60,000 doses of vaccine to Massachusetts hospitals as well as to the Department of Public Health Immunization lab for front-line medical workers.
Allocation of another 40,000 doses of vaccine began this week to local pharmacies (CVS and Walgreens in Haverhill) to begin in January vaccinating staff and residents of skilled nursing facilities, rest homes and assisted-living residences.