Letter: Concern Regarding Board of Health

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Dear Editor,

It is my understanding that in the last few years our Board of Health went from a ‘Health ‘Director’ model to a ‘Health Agent’ model. The idea was, as I understand it, that an assistant Town Manager would take on more of the Director role and leave the Health Agent role more as a figurehead. Currently, our BoH does not have a budget and is being run by assistant Town Manager Delios. I am very concerned that she is essentially in charge of the BoH in addition to her other responsibilities. It concerns me deeply that the health agent has been sidelined by management during this pandemic and the BoH’s response to it. Apparently the Health Agent is not allowed to attend select board meetings! Perhaps this is why the mask directive was late in coming out to the community.

I further understand that money from the state, offered to the BoH to help respond to Covid 19, was turned down by both Delios and our Town Manager! I want to really understand why money was turned down. I get that it was “only” about $15-25,000 but it could have helped get vitally needed supplies. I am confused why it was not taken when offered. I suspect, and hope, it was a mistake but I do want to understand this. 

I hope the Select Board will examine this with speed and diligence. I believe it is vitally important that the BoH has a director, with a budget and the power to hire and fire employees. Reading is not designed to be run only by Town Managers. I think we have seen concerns raised already about this but now, with the current health crisis playing out, it seems vitally important to have a director of our BoH.

I hope this is addressed publicly as soon as possible.

Thank you,

Demetra Tseckares
Oak Street

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