By Max Bowen–firstname.lastname@example.org
After a year and a half with the town’s health department, Sheri Miller-Bedau is preparing to take on a familiar role in a new community.
Miller-Bedau has accepted the position of Plainville Health Agent, beginning Aug. 15. It’s a role that has been vacant since last July, according to Plainville Health Director Deborah Revelle. The town had attempted to hire a part-time health agent, but no qualified applicants came forward. Revelle has been the sole person in the department, which has made fulfilling all the responsibilities a challenge.
“I’m happy to have her—I know and have worked with her. She’s enthusiastic, a great addition to our team,” said Revelle. “I hope that she brings some visions and ideas.”
Miller-Bedau hadn’t intended to leave North Attleborough, but saw in Plainville an opportunity to take on a wider range of responsibilities. She praised the staff in the North Attleborough police, building, fire, and animal control departments as being great to work with. Miller-Bedau added that the collaborative atmosphere helped her to accomplish a great deal.
“It was hard to leave working with such great relationships,” she said. “Everyone was dedicated to making the town better.”
Working in the health agent field was a recent career change for Miller-Bedau, who had previously been a teacher in the science department of Lincoln Technical Institute. Eager for a career change that would take her out of the classroom, she received her training in Falmouth, where she accepted her first health agent position.
The job has a wide range of responsibilities, including soil sampling, septic system inspections, helping people with housing issues, and other matters to prevent health problems in the community. Last year she received a grant for training for 50 residents at the National Institute for Mental Health. Those residents later received their certification in mental health first aid.
Since March 2020, the health department has been on the front lines of the pandemic, and for almost as long, has worked with other departments on the ongoing rat infestation, providing information on how best to combat the issue. Miller-Bedau started the process of creating a bylaw to distinguish rooming houses, boarding houses, and sober houses to protect the occupants from those startling such facilities just to make money.
Revelle said much of Miller-Bedau’s time will be focused on the day-to-day operations of the department, some of which have been subcontracted because of the staffing shortage. She hopes to review the health regulations and bylaws to see which ones can be updated. Having a health agent around will also be helpful for the town’s Emergency Preparedness plan, should an emergency arise.
“Right now we are reactive and not proactive—just chasing the work that needs to be done and not have time to take our breath and look around,” said Revelle. “I know she’s a go-getter. She’s smart and everything North Attleborough had is what I want for Plainville.”