Special to the Journal
Residents may remember Lauren Buck for her role as Director of Public Health throughout the COVID pandemic. In September of 2022, Lauren Buck was voted unanimously in her promotion as Chief of Health and Human Services. As the Chief of Health and Human Services, Buck is responsible for directly supporting 8 departments and commissions including Elderly Services, the Department of Public Health, Community Health and Engagement, SUDHI, Veterans Services, Consumer Affairs, the Human Rights Commission, and the North Suffolk Public Health Collaborative. The chief position is responsible for managing over 40 full time and part time employees and managing nearly $4 million dollars annually in revenues and expenses over all HHS departments.
Lauren will be the third to serve as the Chief of Health and Human Services for the City of Revere, following Kim Hanton who now serves as Mayor Arrigo’s Chief of Staff and Dr. Nathalee Kong.
The Emergency Preparedness Manager is a new role in Health and Human Services – and Adrienne Sacco-Maguire, active community member and Beachmont resident, has already started getting to work in this role at the Board of Health. The Mayor’s Office sat down with Chief Buck and Adrienne Sacco-Maguire to learn more about their vision for the department and the importance of the new emergency position.
INTERVIEWER: Lauren, what do you see as your priorities as Chief of Health and Human Services?
BUCK: In the past I feel like the public health department has kind of been like siloed off of, you know, City Hall. Public Health wasn’t really in integral, but now, especially now that Covid happened it touches on everything. I think in general the goal of the Public Health Department over the next couple years is just to continue building relationships that we’ve built over Covid. The important aspect is to continue being effective in communication and getting word our to the community. I don’t think anyone has cracked the code on it just yet, but it’s an important aspect of our work and something we’re always trying to improve. The relationships we’ve built over Covid was important and connected us with departments we wouldn’t normally work with. For example, we continue to work with Donny in Water and Sewer with wastewater studies, and we are constantly reaching out to the Department of Planning and Community Development for all things housing. In a sense, it was important Covid happened because it made other departments realize we are here, and we’re ready to work in whatever capacity that holds. Because Health and Human services are, at its’ simplest form, integral to every department in the City of Revere.
I think there are overarching issues that all departments deal with… Housing and homelessness is one of them. It’s something that touches Veterans Affairs, Elder Affairs, Community Outreach, and SUDHI. It’s just getting us all to be working together and knowledgeable about what each department’s doing on those big issues so we can be more effective. It’s a matter of bringing Public Health to the forefront of the issues we’re facing in Revere, and asking “how can we be a part of this?” More often than not, it’s important to have Health and Human Services at the table for a variety of reasons, and that’s something I don’t think we connected to prior to COVID.
INTERVIEWER: What is your new role as Emergency Preparedness Manager? Why is this position so important?
MAGUIRE: The position certainly came out of seeing the need for more coordination with emergency services. Emergencies always happened and maybe we could have been more prepared for some of them, but what that showed us was that it’s clear there needed to be more communication with different departments like Fire and Police and SUDHI and Liaisons to have a more coordinated effort with solutions. The role is important because if there is an emergency like a fire, or even a pandemic, you know who to call. It can be for things as big as a pandemic, but it can also be a really hot summer day or cold winter. Emergencies are inevitable. But being prepared for them can, in turn, lessen the difficulty they bring on our city.
INTERVIEWER: Adrienne, you’ve been a nurse in the Revere Public Schools for most of your career – how has COVID changed the perception of Public Health in Revere? How is this role different?
MAGUIRE: I think that our city finally actually saw what it was that public health does during the pandemic because we were the ones that were leaned on during the crisis. We were able to distinguish ourselves as the department you called for guidance, and I do think that will remain going forward. Working in the schools for so long, I see now how dramatically we have grown and started to cover issues that I never used to work on.
INTERVIEWER: What made both of you get into this line of work?
BUCK: I was a regular clinical nurse, working at a hospital and just always knew it wasn’t the right fit for me. Most nurses get into their roles because they like helping people, but for some reason being in a hospital wasn’t the right fit for me. I always thought – instead of helping one person with blood pressure issues, why not try to tackle the reason that an entire community has blood pressure issues? That’s what drew me into public health – trying to seek those answers and tackle larger community problems.
MAGUIRE: I’ve only worked in pediatrics, and I was very comfortable working only in pediatrics for all of my nursing career. But working through Covid gave me a different perspective of how you can help community. And so when I left my school nurse job, I said that it was time for me to make an impact on not just the students that I worked with, but the community that I’ve lived in my whole life. That’s how I came into public health. Also to work for somebody who is as passionate about public health as Lauren is, and see a whole different scope of public health, that’s exciting to me. She pushes me every day to learn new things and look at things from a different perspective.
INTERVIEWER: If you had to give yourself piece of advice when COVID started, what would you say?
BUCK: My first week of the pandemic, I wasn’t working here. I was a nurse. And I mean, I just like would wish I would tell myself “Don’t panic!” Cause it was so scary. I struggled a lot with how scary it was this first couple months and I just wish I could tell myself that you’ll make it through. I would tell myself that in some situations, you’re not going to make everyone happy and you have to be okay with that. I hate that as a piece of advice because obviously the goal is to try to meet people’s needs, but you’re not always going to be able to do that… and just learn to live with it a little bit better.
MAGUIRE: I would tell myself not to be afraid to reach out. I think about at the beginning how we probably didn’t hit every neighborhood of Revere, or we weren’t translating enough information, but we learned pretty quickly how important that was and we will always continue to expand accessibility.