Vol. I No. 03 9/1/2020
About the Stockbridge Board of Health
by Charles Kenny, Chair
Each of the three members of the Stockbridge Board of Health is elected for three-year overlapping terms. A registered nurse and two medical doctors currently sit on the board. The board meets quarterly with the boards of Lee and Lenox to oversee the Tri-Town Health Department and as needed. Tri-Town Director Jim Wilusz, R.S., the Stockbridge Board, and Finance Committee Chairman Jay Bikofsky recently developed a plan to stabilize the financial status of Tri-Town, calling together the administrators, finance committees, and health boards of all three towns to implement the plan. The history, multiple functions, and substantial accomplishments of Tri-Town are summarized elsewhere in Updates by Director Wilusz.
The board also addresses matters of public health specific to Stockbridge. Recently, Covid-19 has occupied much of the board's attention, but concerns about the future of the elderly residents, reliability of the town's ambulance coverage, accountability of the mosquito control program, and Stockbridge Bowl cyanobacterial blooms have also required the board's consideration and action. Cyanobacterial bloom prevention illustrates how the board operates.
Massachusetts General Law Chapter 111, Section 122 (excerpted): "The board of health shall examine into all nuisances, sources of filth and causes of sickness within its town, ..., which may, in its opinion, be injurious to the public health, shall destroy, remove or prevent the same as the case may require; and shall make regulations for the public health and safety relative thereto..." When, in late summer of 2019, the board had to issue a health advisory against water activities in the Bowl due to a potentially hazardous bloom of cyanobacteria, the board determined to do its best to adhere to Section 122's mandate. The board formed an advisory committee and sought out and secured the advice of a cyanobacterial-bloom expert Robert Kortmann, PhD who recommended that an ongoing diagnostic testing program be initiated through GZA a Geo- Technical and Environmental Management firm in Glastonbury CT. Stockbridge Board of Health took this recommendation before the Stockbridge Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee, who promptly approved it, funded it, and got it up and running. For the public health and safety, the board issued regulations to ensure that a scientific basis would serve to control interventions in the Stockbridge Bowl that might predispose to cyanobacterial blooms in the future.
Going forward, it is likely that Covid-19 will remain at the front of the public health concerns for the foreseeable future. Together with Tri-Town and the town's Emergency Management Team, the board will continue to work to minimize the negative impact of this extraordinary challenge. Meanwhile, the board will endeavor not to lose sight of the importance of day-to-day public health and safety issues.
Editor's note: Kenny practiced orthopedic surgery in Berkshire County for 35 years, including 15 years at the Corner House in Stockbridge.