Comerford, Hinds to host virtual session on health equity



Staff Writer
Published: 6/26/2020 4:17:03 PM
Modified: 6/26/2020 4:16:53 PM

Health equity and public health infrastructure are a couple of the topics that will be discussed Monday morning when the Joint Committee on Public Health Chair Sen. Jo Comerford and Sen. Adam Hinds, along with other state senators, host a virtual public health listening session.

Comerford’s committee has been looking at everything from children’s health, to expanding MassHealth coverage, to facilitating access to emergency care, and she has said the committee is pushing numerous bills that would make residents’ lives easier.

“The public health committee has looked closely at many complex issues for more than a year, and has approved measures to keep our commonwealth healthy and thriving,” Comerford said. “Each of the bills we have advanced would make a positive difference for Western Massachusetts and the entire state.”

Comerford herself has fought for many other health issues, including ensuring health equity for women, eliminating health disparities, regulating prescription drug marketing and promoting better health care.

As the state reopens and recovers, senators want to hear from Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration, chief stakeholders, policy experts, those who have been impacted by COVID-19 and others.

Earlier this month, Comerford, D-Northampton, held a virtual panel on Facebook on public health and environmental justice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hinds, D-Pittsfield said he appreciates Comerford’s attention to serious matters and looks forward to working closely to advance health care points of the Rural Policy Plan. Hinds is chair of the Rural Caucus.

Hinds, like Comerford and other senators, has been a proponent of not only bills that cover the physical health of the residents of Massachusetts, but mental health as well, saying that barriers need to be broken down and stigmas need to be stripped.

“Mental health touches every issue we are confronting as a society, and we are just now making strides to address the mental health needs of our community,” he said earlier this year.

Schedule of talks

The Massachusetts Senate Health Care Listening Session will be held Monday at 11 a.m. A link will be provided at

Equity in public health will be discussed from 11 a.m. to noon. Carlene Pavlos from the Massachusetts Public Health Association, Frank Robinson from Baystate Health and Nancy Krieger from Harvard School of Public Health will address the issue.

They will be followed by Deborah Klein Walker, formerly from the state Department of Public Health, Phoebe Walker from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), Damon Chaplin from the city of New Bedford and Dr. Matilde “Mattie” Castiel from the city of Worcester, who will discuss public health infrastructure from noon to 1 p.m.

Executive Office of Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Dan Tsai and Department of Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, representing the Baker Administration, will talk from 1 to 2 p.m.

From 2 to 3 p.m. and 3 to 4 p.m., two health care provider panels will present. Donna Kelly-Williams, president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, Dr. David Rosman, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and Dr. Steven Strongwater, president and CEO of Atrius Health, will speak on the first panel. Steve Walsh, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, and Michael Curry, deputy CEO and legislative counsel for the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, will participate in the second.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or

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