Amherst health director set to leave


Staff Writer

Published: 06-06-2023 12:00 PM

AMHERST — A town employee at the forefront of making sure the community stayed safe during the pandemic will leave her position as Amherst’s health director at the end of July.

Jennifer Brown announced in correspondence to Town Manager Paul Bockelman that she expects her last day to be July 31 after two years in the position, following nine years as Amherst’s public health nurse, finding the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency a good time to depart.

“It has been a privilege of a lifetime to work during the public health pandemic and I am proud to have been part of a community that demonstrated such a genuine commitment to the health of all people,” Brown wrote in her letter.

Brown noted, too, though that pandemic was grueling with incivility and tragic periods, though she often saw the best in people who supported each other. She anticipates the department will continue to lead the way in innovative public health services with a health equity lens and work with institutional and regional partners including the Hampshire Public Health Shared Services Coalition.

Bockelman praised Brown, her staff and volunteers for leading vaccination clinics as the best response to the disease, working with the state Department of Public Health regularly and getting funding for the Department of Public Works to test and monitor wastewater for COVID.

“She stabilized the department and maintained the town’s focus on addressing the disease proactively,” Bockelman said.

A search for a successor will begin, though Bockelman said this could be challenging due to the strain on public health professionals since 2020.

Brown also managed infectious diseases, dug into the mosquito control spraying issue, and worked cooperatively with staff and guests at the Craig’s Doors shelter.

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“She is a consummate professional, always organized, prepared, and working in the best interests of the residents of the town, especially those most in need to ensure equitable access to health services,” Bockelman said.

Brown, who was initially hired jointly with the city of Northampton, also has experience working as a medical professional in hospitals such as Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, South Coast Hospital in New Bedford, New England Medical Center in Boston and New York Hospital in New York.

“I envision myself continuing in public health and nursing with a commitment to population health, however scaling back the number of hours I work so that I may create a balance between work and family,” Brown said.

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