By Caitlin Carro
Matthew Brennan currently serves as the Director of Public Health for the Town of Foxborough’s Health Department. He began the position in January of 202l. Before he started his position in Foxborough, he served as the assistant director in the Weymouth Health Department for eight years. In Weymouth, he oversaw inspectional services, responded to environmental concerns, responded to emergencies, and assisted with flu clinics and health fairs during his time there. Brennan holds a Registered Sanitarian license and certifications as a soil evaluator, food manager, lead determinator, pool operator, incident command systems, and hazardous waste operations and emergency response. Matthew is also an elected at-large member of the Massachusetts Health Officers Association Executive Committee.
Matthew holds a bachelor’s degree in earth science with a concentration in geology. Before his positions in public health, he had an array of experiences in environmental work and geotechnical services. He first became drawn to working in the field of public health when he witnessed a job posting in Weymouth for an environmental inspector, as he felt he was a good fit for the position due to his previous experiences in the environmental field. Since that time, he has progressed into further positions in public health and “has grown to love it and has thrived in it”.
To Matthew, working with a local board of health is meaningful because “you get to see your work affect the community at large”, and recognizes that his projects help the community solve problems. COVID-19 has affected the nature of Matthew’s work with Foxborough, as prior to COVID-19 the department was enforcing the state sanitary code, but once the pandemic began, the local health department needed to enforce the governor’s orders, such as the state’s reopening plan and restrictions on business operations. During COVID-19, Matthew and his departments’ task list was lengthened greatly due to the new enforcement duties, greatly increased contact tracing efforts, and the rollout of vaccines. The department has faced challenges throughout the pandemic, particularly with caseloads, as well as, hiring. “There has been a lot of turnover in the public health community” Brennan said. Currently, the Town of Foxborough is hiring a public health inspector and the Bristol Norfolk Public Health Partners, which is a shared services initiative between the Towns of Easton, Foxborough, Mansfield, Norton, Plainville, and Sharon are currently looking for an epidemiologist and two public health shared service inspectors.
Matthew describes each day of his job as diverse, claiming that “every day is different and you never know what you’re going to run into”. On some days, Matthew addresses issues at restaurants and completes housing inspections, while other days he goes to courts, clinics, and other places where he is needed. He enjoys the diversity of his job because it keeps him very involved. Outside of working in public health, Matthew has two daughters that he enjoys spending time with and bringing them to gymnastics practice. Additionally, Matthew enjoys spending time with family and saltwater fishing.
Matthew describes the MHOA as a “great resource” for public health professionals because they do many things for him and his department. The MHOA provides many learning opportunities, guidance documents, and/or liaisons with other public health organizations. He offered an example, the MHOA helped the Town of Foxborough’s health department through their work with the Advanced Public Health Volunteers, who have recently completed a health assessment on the Town of Foxborough. In addition, Matthew claimed that the MHOA has helped him with forming his new shared services initiative, too. The MHOA helps build relationships within the public health community he said, which has been instrumental to help form shared services within Foxborough’s surrounding communities. Lastly, Matthew stated that the MHOA has been great during the pandemic since they have helped provide continual guidance and education to the local boards of health.