Health & Wellness

Westfield Board of Health Appoints New President, Discusses Lead Poisoning

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Tom O'Neill, a resident of Westfield since 1986, assumed the role of Board of Health president on Monday night. Credits: Michael Bruchert
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WESTFIELD, NJ – The Westfield Board of Health met for the first time in 2017 on Monday, recapping successes of the past year and appointing new leaders.

Tom O’Neill, a board member for over 15 years, was elected as the new president. Immediate Past President Dr. Lawrence Budnick was elected vice president.

The town’s volunteer health committee also welcomed a new member in Alicia Barker, a 12-year resident of Westfield who said she sought an opportunity to get involved in community service.

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In reviewing 2016, the board confirmed the conclusion of a four-year long lead poisoning case on South Avenue near Clark. After several permits were requested and granted, the property was demolished in mid-December.

Health inspector Helen Mendez issued just one "conditionally satisfactory" report in December to Ahrre’s Coffee on Elm St.

“They had some problems with refrigeration temperatures and there was some soiled equipment and not-properly sanitized equipment,” Mendez said.

The board also approved the 2017 budget, noting that all health service contracts increased at an average of 1.6 percent under the same terms.

Under new business, the board passed a resolution to request additional funding in preparation of New Jersey Senate bill No. 1830, legislature that requires local health departments to match the CDC’s recommendations for elevated blood lead levels in children.

“It lowers the [regulation] level from 10 down to five, which of course is wonderful for public health,” Avallone said. “We want this, but the problem is there is no additional funding.”

Each lead case, according to Avallone, takes approximately 14-15 hours of lab work and paperwork to complete. While only two cases were reported last year, 24 would have needed to be documented under new regulations.

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