Candidate Profile | Janice Cohen
Board of Health (contested)
The local election will be April 9, 2022. In order to inform eligible voters and empower them with the information they need to both show up at the polls and make an educated decision once they get there, I’ll be profiling candidates for election. I complete these profiles by interviewing the candidates and then writing up our conversation in a conversational format, much like I have done with the local government profiles. Candidates are invited to review the profiles prior to publication to ensure I got the facts correct.
Other upcoming opportunities to learn more about your candidates:
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This is one of three candidate profiles for the contested Board of Health (BoH) race. Click a name below to read about the other candidates.
Janice is a long-time Burlington resident, having lived here with her family for 44 years. She began getting involved in the community as early as 1987, when she worked with a committee of parents to institute an extended-day kindergarten program in our elementary schools. In the years since, she has participated in many different ways, including delivering food to the elderly and disabled through Meals on Wheels and volunteering with her son’s Cub Scouts troop.
Professionally, Janice is an experienced educator. As a middle school science teacher, Janice has taught subjects such as climate change and the advantages of renewable energy, along with the importance of diet and exercise - all in a manner that is meaningful to students.
Following her retirement she has been working with her daughter as a special education advocate. In this capacity, she helps families navigate the special education system, making sure they understand the process and their rights and working together to ensure their children get the services they need to thrive in the school system.
Janice keeps current with events at the local, state, and national level and beyond. She has a keen interest in environmental issues that include the improper disposal of hazardous materials and its effects on the health of a community.
Janice also spends a lot of time with her 101-year-old mother and the other residents in her mother’s nursing home. Among other ways of volunteering, Janice started a library with a selection of large-print books that residents can read, pass around, and discuss. Janice has always been into preventive health, healthy living, and exercise, but her experience spending time in a nursing home, where many residents are there because of the effects of a fall, has really underscored the need to get more community members involved in prevention programs.
Janice’s Priorities for BoH
With COVID waning and the community returning to a new version of normal, many businesses will be moving to a hybrid model and some of our empty office space will be converted into biotechnology use. Janice would like to help shepherd that process forward, aiding the Board in maintaining disposal standards for hazardous waste and other processes that will be changing with this shift in building use.
She’d also like to facilitate the reinstatement of programs that were put on hold during the pandemic. Our preventive programs, such as the Matter of Balance fall prevention program, as well as the Until Help Arrives and Stop the Bleed programs, have helped many community members, and Janice would like to prioritize their re-implementation so they can save more lives.
Finally, she would like to see some psychological first-aid training for the Burlington Volunteer Reserve Corps, as well as training for diversity- and culturally-focused emergency response, so responders can be better equipped to meet the needs of all community members in an emergency.
Medium- and Long-Term Priorities
There are a variety of areas where Janice anticipates the Board of Health will need to focus in the medium and long term.
The Board was very prepared to address the pandemic, and Janice would like to see these efforts reinforced to be sure we are prepared for anything else that might come our way. This includes any potential consequences that might come as a result of the United States taking in refugees. Janice says we need to be prepared for the needs of these potential refugees, including housing, food, medications, and vaccinations. We also need to be ready to address food shortages, inflated prices, and increases in utility prices that might result from the conflict in Ukraine.
Climate change is another area that Janice anticipates requiring action from the Board of Health. We have already seen an increase in storms and flooding in town (and remember, the Board of Health has responsibility for stormwater management), but warming could also lead to more diseases for which treatment and vaccination might be needed.
Finally, Janice would like to see a program like Mass Healthy Smiles come into Burlington. Based on the understanding that dental health is connected to overall health outcomes, this program supports the oral health of students who don’t have access to dental care with screenings, referrals, information, and education.
Janice sees communication as a priority for the Board of Health. They already do a good job of having information available on their website, but some in the community may not know about upcoming events like vaccine clinics, blood pressure screenings, the annual Health Fair, and educational presentations. Janice sees an opportunity to publicize the Board and upcoming events in additional modalities; looking into working with translators already used by schools to translate informational material might be a good place to start.
Janice believes her work up until this point makes her the ideal candidate for the Board of Health seat. She enjoys listening and learning, and has the time to devote to not only educating herself on the long list of responsibilities of the Board of Health, but also to hearing from experts about the latest developments in public health. She is a strong communicator, and through her advocacy work she’s learned to be an active listener and work with a number of stakeholders to come to a common ground.
She is eager for the opportunity to give back to the community by serving on your Board of Health.
Janice can be reached in the following ways:
You can message Janice through this page, and be sure to check it for more details about upcoming events.