Noise Hinders Interviews for Public Health Nurse

            On May 9, the Mattapoisett Board of Health held a public meeting, at which time five of eight applicants vying for the position of public health nurse were interviewed either on-site in the large meeting room located at the public library, or via Zoom internet meeting. The hitch in this plan, having the board gather in a room large enough to afford social distancing and remote meeting access, was the audio. Ambient noise in the cavernous room corrupted the voices of the participants, rendering discussions inaudible.

            The Wanderer was unable to decipher the interviews and asked for the curriculum vitae and letters of interest submitted by the applicants to be provided as public records. Board of Health Chairman Carmelo Nicolosi accommodated that request.

            The following are brief outlines from all eight applicants, based on documents they provided. Before the interviews commenced and with the phone positioned adequately for audio output, Board of Health Agent Kayla Davis declared that she had completed full disclosure forms at the town clerk’s office given that her aunt, Elizabeth Russell of Wareham, was one of the applicants.

            Russell’s resume lists a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing from Curry College in 2019. She has worked in public health settings, and as a nurse in both medical and surgical positions. Russell also listed community nursing as part of her career path and has been a case manager for community service groups. She has been a registered nurse for 27 years.

            Kara Bandstra of Upton holds a Master’s Degree in both nursing and public health from Worcester State University and University of Massachusetts respectively, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Rhode Island College. She stated that she has been a registered nurse for over 17 years, working in institutional, community, and public health settings including disease investigation and education.

            Emily Field of Marion listed a Master’s Degree in nursing from Boston College in 2005 and as having attended Monash University in Victoria, Australia, where she studied community health. Field’s nursing background points to extensive institutional nursing in medical, surgical, and critical care positions. She has also volunteered at local schools.

            Kimberly Jerome of Rochester holds nursing licenses in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing from UMass Dartmouth in 1993. She lists over 20 years of nursing experience, noting her work in critical care units as well as home-based, healthcare programming.

            Barbara Sylvia of Dartmouth has been a private care nurse for 15 years. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in 1989 from Rhode Island College. Sylvia graduated in 1983 from Cambridge-based Youville Hospital School, where she studied practical nursing. She also listed experience in critical care nursing, medical and surgical units, nursing homes, and psychiatric care.

            Tiffany Taylor-Sullivan of Middleboro has recent experience with COVID-19 patients in hospital settings. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing from Curry College in 2019. She has spent most of her professional career in academia as a high school math teacher. She also lists the publication of educational textbooks as a writer and editor as professional achievements. Taylor-Sullivan graduated from Georgia State University in 2004 with a Master’s Degree in education.

            Jodi Moen of Sandwich has been a nurse for 12 years and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing from UMass Boston. Of her nursing experience, Moen listed positions in trauma units, acute care, hospice, and home-based settings. Her professional background includes being an on-call firefighter, EMT, and animal control officer. She has studied diseases such as the West Nile virus and tick-borne pathogens through her work with animals and the public.

            Lori Desmarais of Assonet is currently working as a public health nurse and has 25-years of experience in nursing. She has worked in pre-operative and post-operative positions and in pediatric private care. Desmarais is also a director in a nursing home setting where she provides staff development programming and infection control procedures. Currently in the wake of COVID-19, she is performing contact tracing and follow-up. She also listed professional positions as an EMT and as on-call firefighter. Desmarais earned a Bachelorette Degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1993.

            The board hopes to make a decision in the next four weeks with input from Davis, public health nurse Amanda Stone and three Board of Health committee members, Nicolosi, Ken Dawicki, and Russell Bailey.

            Stone also gave an update on Mattapoisett’s COVID-19 cases, which she said stood at 21 on May 6. She said that earlier estimates on the number of people that would need to be contacted based on exposure to a confirmed case had been trimmed back. She said that all of the data being collected including symptoms related to the disease is aiding to a better understanding of the virus. When asked what the average age of local confirmed cases was, she responded, “…over fifty (years old).” Stone added that at the present time no Mattapoisett residents were in the hospital with a COVID-19 diagnosis. Of the 21 cases, she said they were all isolated at home.

            Stone cautioned that as more testing was completed confirmed case numbers would rise especially for people working in the healthcare field. She also cautioned, “There are a lot of people in the community we don’t know about; that’s why wearing a mask is so important.” Stone said that many people do not demonstrate symptoms but are, in fact, contagious. “The puzzle is coming together,” Stone stated and that in order to open up businesses and other venues it will be necessary to wear face coverings. “We won’t know (the implications of opening businesses) for a while… there’ll need to be administrative and environmental controls,” she added.

            Of case investigations, Stone said those are determined by many factors such as onset of symptoms, type of symptoms, people in close contact, movement of people that are exposed to a confirmed case, “…all that gets transferred into the database.”

            “Close contacts have to go into quarantine,” Stone stated. “It’s believed that you can get infected if you come closer than 6 feet for 15 minutes or more with an infected person… Staying home helps reduce contact rates.” She said that in workplaces it’s the responsibility of the business leaders to inform employees of confirmed cases.

            The Board of Health moved onto the issue of a part-time versus full-time clerk. Nicolosi said that the town administrator had asked the board to consider a part-time clerk, given revenue decreases expected due to coronavirus-related business shutdowns.

            Former town administrator Mike Gagne confirmed that the plan was to ask for cutbacks from all town departments.

            Staffing at the transfer station was discussed as several employees have not wanted to work during the emergency, Nicolosi said. He said members of the Highway Department have been filling in. The board discussed staggering transfer station hours to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday through the summer.

            The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Health was not scheduled at press time.

Mattapoisett Board of Health

By Marilou Newell

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