Name: Derek S. Brindisi
Title: Director of for Shrewsbury & Worcester
Reside: Derek lives in Worcester with his wife, Kim and three children, Dante, 14, Olivia, 11, and Domenic, 9.
Mentor: “Dr. Leonard Morse and I worked at the city Health Department since I became the Director in 2007. He was the Commissioner of Public Health and we worked together for four years. He’s a nationally renowned infectious disease doctor who is very wise. He mentored me in understanding public health.”
Education: Master of Science Degree from Clark University
Last book read: The 9/11 Commission Report
Facebook or twitter: “I do follow the Department of Public Health Twitter page.”
When Brindisi turned 18, his plans to enter college changed after his father lost his job. Once he finished high school he joined the Air Force, following in the footsteps of his grandfather. The recruiter suggested a job in public health, and Brindisi thus began his training as a public health technician.
“I truly loved this job. Each day was different and I always did something new,” Brindisi said.
When he finished with the Air Force, he got his degree from Worcester State College and did an internship for the Worcester Health Department and was hired by them soon afterwards and has been with them ever since.
Brindisi is currently a member of the Air National Guard in which he does that one weekend each month and two weeks during the year. In addition he is a public health officer.
He has been working with the Worcester Health Department since June 6, 2000 in various capacities. He started out doing sanitation inspections, food inspections, air quality, and then was promoted to work on a program called the Metropolitan Medical Response System.
“This was a program created by the Federal Government due to an advance of 9/11 given the heightened concerns of the terrorism activity mainly from the early bombings in New York City around 1995 when they initially tried to blow up one of the towers. This program was born because of that as well as the Sarin gas subway attacks in Tokyo,” Brindisi said.
He worked on this program for about two years and was then promoted to deputy director of public health. In January of 2007, Brindisi was again, promoted to his current position as director of public health, city of Worcester.
In his current role, his job is quite administrative in nature. He works directly with program coordinators around issues of substance abuse such as tobacco use, underage drinking and more. In addition, he works closely with his team around public health emergency preparedness and healthcare preparedness issues throughout the region.
“Our preparedness programs encompass all of Central Massachusetts from New Hampshire to the Connecticut border. This is a sizeable geographic area where we are building a number of different plans to respond to a natural and man-made occurrences such as the earthquake that we just had about two hours ago,” Brindisi said.
He also works with a team of nurses to investigate and monitor the numerous communicable diseases that are received on a daily basis.
“We are mandated by the state to respond to that and determine the source of the infection and break that chain. We also work closely with community partners on issues of health equity. We have a very diverse population in Worcester and try to recognize that each population may have specific needs. So we work with a lot of community partners to try to mitigate equal health in certain populations,” Brindisi said.
The YMCA/YMHA, Henry Lee Lewis Center and MOSAIC are just some examples of organizations that focus on health equity.
In addition to this type of daily work, Brindisi’s day can be turned upside down from an earthquake or if a mosquito pool is tested and the results are positive for , or if there is a mercury spill at a local elementary school and more.
One of the things Brindisi likes best about his job is that every day is different and he and his team truly have the ability to make a positive impact.
One of the things he likes least is that he spends a lot of time brokering agreements, which is very process oriented.
“I am currently working with the towns to try to build a regional health department where Worcester plays the host health department that delivers public health services to participating communities like Shrewsbury,” Brindisi said.
Five years from now he hopes to be part of a team leading a functional accredited health department.