Chief of Health and Human Services Lauren Buck Is Guest Speaker at Disabilities Comm. Meeting

The Revere Commission on Disabilities (COD) held its regular monthly meeting last Tuesday evening, November 8, via Zoom.

On hand for the meeting were chairperson Ralph DeCicco, vice-chair Pauline Perno, and members Robert Brown, Mario Grimanis, Asmaa Abou-Fouda, and Jason Barone, as well as Revere High student member Sophia Marmoucha.

The special guest for the evening was Lauren Buck, the Chief of Revere Health and Human Services. Ms. Buck was the first of a guest speaker series that the commission hopes will become a regular feature of its monthly meetings.

Ms. Buck, who formerly was a nurse and has a Master’s in Public Health, has been with the city’s Health Department since 2020.

She noted that public health interacts with many other city departments. “Public health touches lots of different things, so it’s really just about a lot of collaboration,” she said. “It’s always great to collaborate with a lot of different departments.”

Buck highlighted the city’s program that serves Revere’s home-bound residents.

“We’re always thinking about how to make our programs and services more accessible,” said Buck.

Perno asked about the importance of staying up-to-date with flu vaccines, both for disabled persons and their caregivers.

“We’re in the winter, which is the upper respiratory illness season,” said Buck, who added that the Board of Health offers COVID and flu vaccines at its offices at 50 Walnut St.

Buck said  that with the emphasis on flu vaccines having dropped off in the past two years, flu vaccines now are as important as a COVID vaccine. She noted that even if a flu vaccine does not prevent you from getting sick,  it can prevent serious illness and hospitalization.

“It’s especially important to do so now before the holiday season,” Buck said, adding that an individual can get the two vaccines, the flu and the updated COVID, at the same time at the Health Dept.

Buck noted that the onset of the COVID pandemic highlighted the need for the local Health Dept. to reach out to those who are the most vulnerable members of the community for a multitude of reasons. Perno added that it can be challenging to keep up-to-date with the list of those who are in need of home-delivered services.

Abou-Fouda asked about vaccine clinics geared to children with disabilities, for whom a regular vaccine clinic can be challenging.

Buck pointed out that the recent flu vaccine clinic at the Garfield School was a drive-through for children, though further noting that the turnout was very low.

“There’s a lot of vaccine-fatigue right now,” said Buck.

“I think you’re doing a great job and your department is doing a wonderful job and we thank you for being here,” Perno concluded.

Perno updated her fellow commissioners regarding calendar work for future monthly guest speakers. She said that she is waiting to hear back from some other potential speakers for the months ahead.

Perno also provided updated information regarding Therapy Dog agencies. She said that she soon will have some information about the suitability of breed and other issues, as well as looking into possible sources of funding for a local program, perhaps in collaboration with the Revere Police Dept.

Brown added that he has been discussing the matter with others in the field, but said there is a lot of red tape, as well as logistical issues.

Brown presented updates from SEPAC (Special Education Parents Advisory Council) for October and upcoming events for November and December.

Brown, who is the president of SEPAC, said that the next SEPAC meeting is this Thursday, November 17, at 6:00 p.m. in the Learning Commons at Revere High. It also will be held via Zoom. The principal topic will be therapeutic strategies for the upcoming holiday season.

SEPAC’s annual Winter Party will be held Saturday, December 17, from 5-7 at the Parks and Rec. Dept.

DeCicco reported on the monthly CODA (Commissions on Disabilities Alliance)  meeting that was held November 2, providing a brief update regarding accessibility to municipal buildings in various cities and towns, as well as Revere.

He also noted that some other cities and towns are having difficulty filling slots on their local commissions on disabilities. 

DeCicco read a communication from the School Department from Joanne Rizzo, the Student Services Director for the Revere schools for grades K-5, in which Rizzo clarified that the SEPAC meetings are indeed available via Zoom using the School Department’s full Zoom account, which would allow for meetings that extend longer than 45 minutes.

This was an issue that was mentioned at the previous meeting, about which there had been some confusion about the availability of the Revere schools’ Zoom account for use by SEPAC.

DeCicco also took the opportunity to mention that a handicapped placard does not supersede parking restrictions, such as resident-only parking areas, street-sweeping zones, etc. He further noted that a handicapped placard should not be hanging from the rear-view mirror while driving and can earn the operator a citation for a moving violation.

DeCicco concluded the meeting by reading the regular monthly announcement:

The Commission on Disabilities Office works remotely. Residents can speak to staff from our 311 Constituent Service Center Monday through Friday when you call our office at 781-286- 8267. They will be able to answer most questions but if they are unable to or if you would like a call back from our department, please ask to be transferred to the Disability offices voicemail and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 13, at 6:00 and will be held via Zoom.

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