New Greenfield health director seeks to combat opioid epidemic, manage dilapidated properties

MICHAELTHEROUX

MICHAELTHEROUX

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 03-14-2024 5:50 PM

GREENFIELD — The city has hired Michael Theroux as its new health director, filling a position that has been vacant since former Director Jennifer Hoffman’s resigned in October.

Theroux will assume his new position on Monday, March 18.

“Addressing the health director vacancy was an immediate priority of mine when taking office,” Mayor Ginny Desorgher said in a statement. “I believe that public health is an essential aspect of any community, with the health director serving a crucial role in preserving and maintaining exemplary health standards.”

Theroux worked for the town of Agawam for 20 years, where he served on the building, engineering and health departments. Serving as Agawam’s health director for 12 years and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Theroux helped prepare local public health protocols in Agawam while working closely with the state to implement COVID-19 guidelines for local agencies.

Most recently, Theroux spent the last year as a health inspector with the Vermont Department of Health, where he enforced compliance for local businesses and venues. He said he decided to move back to Massachusetts to be closer to his family in Springfield.

“I worked out of their biggest city in Burlington as a health inspector there. So I did hotels, schools, camps and restaurants, and any kind of temporary establishments, home bakeries, all those types of inspections,” Theroux said. “Greenfield just seemed like a great city when I interviewed. It’s not as big as Burlington, a little smaller, a little more local, which is more of what I did in the beginning of my career working in Agawam.”

In his new role, Theroux said he plans to dive into public health issues by partnering with state and community partners to help combat the opioid epidemic through enhanced addiction recovery services. He also wants to help identify and properly manage dilapidated properties throughout the city, which he said are not only unsafe, but a common “eyesore” in neighborhoods across Massachusetts.

Since Theroux will be stepping into a currently vacant role, he said he also plans to get the Health Department back up to speed with its inspections, permit backlogs, and other programs and services that have slowed down since the previous director’s departure. He said he looks forward to moving out to Greenfield and collaborating with Desorgher.

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“I’m excited to work with the new mayor. She seems like she’s very interested in getting the city in order and providing new services,” Theroux said. “She wants to hit the ground running and I admire her for that. … I think we’ll have a good team going forward and I can’t wait to see what happens.”

After conducting interviews throughout January and February, Desorgher said Theroux will make a “great addition” to Greenfield given his experience overseeing a municipal health department. She said he was the right candidate to handle the enforcement of state sanitary, environmental, housing and health codes, and to address hazardous or toxic waste sites on city-owned land, such as the former Lunt Silversmiths property on Federal Street.

“Michael Theroux is uniquely qualified to lead the Health Department in protecting the public health of Greenfield,” Desorgher said in a statement. “I look forward to collaborating with him on addressing the public health challenges facing our city.”

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.