Antonelli is taking on his new role as Hudson’s health director

Lauren Antonelli was appointed Hudson’s new director of public health earlier this year. (Photo / courtesy of the Hudson Health Department)

HUDSON – Hudson has a new director of public and public health.

After two years of COVID-19 operations and a potential turning point in the pandemic response, Lauren Antonelli is now looking to the future, with a combination of challenges and evolutions ahead.

“I’m really excited to take on this new role,” she said in an interview with Community Advocate last month.

Antonelli appointed last month

Antonelli was formally appointed by an elected board vote on May 16th.

Her choice limited the hiring process following the resignation of former director Kelly Kahlo earlier this year.

Kahlo has been in her role since 2017.

“We have a great team here,” Kahlo said in March.

“I will miss him so much,” she added.

Elected as Kahlo’s successor, Antonelli now heads a department he joined less than two years ago in August 2020.

Prior to joining the Department of Health, Antonelli led her to work in the role of substance abuse prevention in the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force in Boston.

She then worked to help those experiencing homelessness at positions at the St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children, also in Boston.

“I’ve been exposed to many things,” Antonelli said of his early career, noting a diverse clientele in Boston.

Antonelli, who also received a master’s degree with a focus on psychology in 2013, eventually chose to leave Boston for a position in Hudson as regional coordinator of the Youth Drug Abuse Prevention Program in the city, where she now also lives. five years.

“It looked very good,” she said of the role of the Ministry of Health.

The health department expanded during the pandemic

Initially focused on preventing drug abuse in the Hudson, Antonelli’s tenure in the city has so far been dominated by the larger COVID-19 pandemic.

By taxing public health professionals, the pandemic has also released new grant money to expand Hudson’s health department staff as part of a regional network of shared services with a number of communities in the area.

As the circumstances of the pandemic continue to evolve, this staff boom is now a focal point for Antonelli.

Prior to the pandemic, there were four full-time employees of the Hudson Health Department and one part-time employee.

That number now stands at a total of 15 full-time employees, with many people working part-time.

Although funding for the new positions is provided until June 2024, the future after this point is less certain.

“It’s hard to be at a very early stage of this, to start it and work, and then you also have to think about sustainability [of it]”Antonelli said.

She drew attention to the sources of funding, expressing optimism about the longevity of these new positions and a model of inter-municipal shared services for the future.

“I hope they don’t give up on everything after making these big investments to get things going,” she said.

Including Hudson and other communities such as Framingham, this model allows collaboration to track contact with the coronavirus, among other efforts, Antonelli explained.

Constraints in space remain

When the topic of funding raises longer-term issues, current space constraints are an obstacle today to the Ministry of Health, which Antonelli is leading.

Without a seat at their headquarters, some health officials work in the Hudson City Hall auditorium when their hybrid schedules require personal work at City Hall.

With the onset of the summer months, the lack of air conditioning in this space is an additional challenge.

“Basically, we do the best we can,” Antonelli said.

The Ministry of Health has ARPA money allocated to ease space constraints. But with some concerns about the sustainability of renting new office space, for example, the next steps remain to be determined from last month.

The health director expects a “next chapter” for the department

Outside of COVID-19 and related personnel changes, Antonelli reiterated his excitement about what a new phase in the pandemic response is.

With a sense of normalcy returning after the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, Antonelli highlighted a variety of efforts, ranging from ongoing substance abuse prevention work to mental health services to work with Hudson’s ever-growing business community.

“[The pandemic has] it really was the focus, “Antonelli said. “So now I’m excited that this next chapter for me, too, I hope will be the beginning of the next chapter for the department and the city as a whole, as we get a little out of COVID.

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