City Council Congratulates Connolly as She Heads Up Haverhill’s New Department of Public Health

Mary Connolly addresses city councilors as she becomes director of the Haverhill Department of Public Health. (WHAV News photograph.)

Haverhill’s recently created Department of Public Health has a new director as the office focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic and opioid crisis as the two most important health issues facing Haverhill residents.

The appointment of current Public Health Nurse Mary Connolly to the new job by Mayor James J. Fiorentini was endorsed by the City Council Tuesday night by a vote of 8-0 with Councilor Michael S. McGonagle absent. The mayor told councilors Connolly will also receive some help.

“We have three new employees. We have a new administrative assistant who has already started, a new nurse and a new social worker who start by the end of the year,” he explained.

Connolly told councilors the new team excited to begin working on the issues facing the city, but admitted they face an uphill battle containing the opioid crisis.

“I’d like to say we have a plan in place right now, but I’d be lying to you if I did that. We do need to do a lot of work and we do need to do a lot of outreach to find out the best way to work on this opioid crisis,” she said.

She said her team, among other efforts, will be reaching out to other communities for ideas on effective ways to address the drug problem.

The national supply chain problem is also causing a backup in receiving COVID-19 vaccination products. Connolly said vaccines are available, but shipping has become an issue. She said her department will continue to push for more vaccines and hold weekly clinics at the Citizens Center.

Connolly added said the state plans to bring another clinic to provide booster shots Monday, Dec. 13.

The new director was honored last June as a “Commonwealth Heroine” by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women for her work during the pandemic. She managed quarantines, secured food for those in need and arranged for vaccinations when they became available, according to state Rep. Andy X. Vargas who nominated her for the designation.

Vargas said at the time, “Mary Connolly represents the best that Haverhill has to offer. She has been a guardian angel to countless residents thorough this pandemic. She stepped up in a major way when our city and community needed her most. It was my honor to nominate her.”

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