Vol. I No. 03 9/1/2020
Tri-Town Health District: Optimizing Our Approach to Public Health Delivery Systems
by Jim Wilusz, Executive Director
In 1929, the leadership of the small farming towns of Lee, Lenox, and Stockbridge, to combat a milk disease outbreak, decided to join forces to share the cost of a milk inspector. It was an unprecedented decision. The milk inspector would be responsible for setting up a regional system to sample raw milk and ensure that the community members were protected from disease. Since then, Tri-Town has evolved into a comprehensive public health system.
Fast forward ninety-one (91) years later, The Tri-Town Health Department, the oldest health district in the Commonwealth, still stands strong today. Under the authority of the Lee, Lenox, and Stockbridge Boards of Health we are required under MGL Chapter 111 to promote, protect, and sustain local public health, avoid and prevent negative health outcomes, provide disease investigation through routine monitoring, promote and implement health and wellness strategies, protect environmental health, reduce health disparities and social determinants of health, and improve overall health.
For ninety years and counting, this regional model in how municipal services are delivered continues to be at the forefront. Now more than ever as we combat a global pandemic, we responded to COVID-19 hitting on all cylinders, our regional health department was prepared and ready.
Our district model offers a model for municipalities looking to explore this form of service delivery. The District continues to offer the roadmap for how effective regional public health models function with respect to sustainability, service delivery and streamlining operations. One of the many benefits of a health district is the ability to meet demands of member towns, streamlining service delivery, and having the capacity to respond to the unique needs of the communities in which we serve.
- Ability to respond to off-hours emergencies and weekends.
- Inspectional services are in full compliance with regulatory laws and requirements.
- Requests for plan approval and permitting are fast, streamlined, and efficient.
- Reporting and annual renewals are in real time.
- Strength and working relationships with other municipal departments to ensure the community members receive the highest quality of services
- And of course, having adequate staffing to combat a global pandemic.
The 3-town leadership has invested in our district for more than 9 decades and for good reason. We were prepared to respond, react, and direct public health services to fight this pandemic. We thank the residents and those that had the forward-thinking idea of sharing resource so long ago.
We thank the Boards of Health, town residents for their constant support in our District as we continue to deliver core public health services as continue to battle a pandemic, educate the community, ensure businesses are safe, and to keep the overall health and wellness of our residents a priority. For a comprehensive list of programs and services please visit www.tritownhealth.org
Editor's note: James J. Wilusz has dual licenses as a Registered Sanitarian and a Registered Environmental Health Specialist.