CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A virtual forum was held Wednesday to discuss protecting public health… and preparing for the next pandemic.

It’s pretty inevitable that there will eventually be another pandemic of some sort, just like there was 100 years ago before this one. Public health officials met Wednesday to discuss the role of public health infrastructure and how to be more prepared before the next public health crisis.

They want to propose action steps to support a statewide local public health system that can adequately respond to the public health needs of all communities throughout the state in case of another pandemic.
Ideas presented included designing better pipeline for people to go into health departments from local colleges and universities to help with staffing shortages seen during this pandemic. And standardizing public health departments to create more diversity and share services to help with grant writing and staffing.

“We see the public health leaders in local communities stretched thinner and thinner. We ache at the blistering disparities of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said State Senator Jo Comerford, Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester

The panel says the best way to transform inequity’s is to invest in local and regional public health infrastructure. They hope that $200-million of American Rescue Plan funding to this sector will help.

Over 300 people attended the online discussion…with concluding around the mission that your zip code should not determine the level of public health access they get.