PATERSON, NJ - A $95,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Health will lead to the launch of a 13-member “strike team” better equipped to contain and suppress any outbreak of foodborne communicable diseases, Mayor Andre Sayegh announced Thursday.

The announcement comes just weeks after a food handler at Brother’s Produce was diagnosed with hepatitis A, an incident leading to a major public health response.

Through better training and new technology, Sayegh said, the team, made of of nurses and environmental health specialists, all already employed by the city, will be additionally ready and properly prepared for responses not just in Paterson but also in Hawthorne, Totowa, North Haledon, and Prospect Park, municipality’s the city’s Division of Health already holds contracts to provide such services.

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Sayegh also mentioned meningitis, tuberculosis, and the flu as other illnesses the team will offer more prepared response on. 

Responders will also have access to tablets, instead of relying on pens and papers, Oshin Castillo, director of health and human services for the City of Paterson said, and direct access to the State’s database on communicable disease. 

“This grant will enhance our ability to reach our resident, and through our increased ability to offer preventive services through education, as well as more rapid response, it will make Paterson healthier.”

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