Andy Cambi Tapped as Pittsfield's Director of Public Health
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Interim Director of Public Health Andy Cambi will step in as the permanent director of public health.
The Board of Health unanimously voted Cambi into the position on Wednesday after a public interview. During a recess, he was called to be notified of the decision and accepted the job offer.
Patricia Tremblay, an administrator with Berkshire Health Systems, was also supposed to be interviewed but withdrew.
Debate amongst the board was brief. Members were pleased with his work within the city as a senior sanitarian and interim director as well as his responses to interview questions.
"I had the opportunity to work with him on a couple of different initiatives and I found him to be impressive," Brad Gordon said.
"I think in areas where he may not yet have deep knowledge, he is going to roll up his sleeves and acquire that knowledge and he's professional and seems really committed to the community and really addressing public health issues within the community."
Board members seconded his sentiments.
Kimberly Loring said even though Cambi does not have a degree in public health, he has transferrable skills that will work well in the position.
Chair Bobbie Orsi especially liked Cambi's response when he said what he would do in the department if offered the position. Cambi said he would first look to fill vacancies and then really start to work with the BOH while addressing community needs.
"I thought that that showed a fair degree of just confidence in general knowledge of what the job is," she said.
In September, Cambi stepped in as interim director of public health after Gina Armstrong resigned. He worked alongside Armstrong throughout the pandemic and during the interview, stressed how it impacted his understanding of the job.
He began working for the Health Department seven years ago as a nuisance control officer and has worked his way up.
Cambi sees the position as a bridge between the department, the community, and the board.
"I would say that I want to make a difference in what we have in our community because being the Director of the Health Department has a big impact on our community, and that's what I want to lead with that's what my ultimate goals are, is to be an effective leader," he said.
"Meaning that whether I implement new programs, whether I do outreach, I have a diverse background, and I think we have a community that has a lot of diversity, and that's what I want to bring to the table."
At the beginning of the special meeting, a resident called in to speak against the board's mask directive, saying masking is "socially corrosive."
When asked what the director's biggest challenge is, Cambi referenced the person's testimony.
He strives to take that kind of negativity out of the community, he said, while hearing people's opinions and being respectful of them.
Cambi also finds it important for the community to know where the Health Department stands and be educated by them.
"I think there's a lot of negativity right now in the community and, and I want to just get rid of that," he said.
"I love this city and I think we all need to be proud of this city, and we can do a lot of great things, so that's kind of the biggest challenge that I see is that getting away that negativity that is instilled in here."
Transparency is the way that Cambi believes residents can trust the Health Department.
"I think there's a lot of mistrust right now with government agencies, and I think finding the root of that mistrust and being transparent to the public," he added.
"I think it's starting to begin that changing that negativity, I think what everyone needs to understand is that our role, whether it's the Board of Health or the Health Department, is for the public, we are doing our best to serve the public the best way that we can with the resources that we have."
Because of his diverse background, including being fluent in Spanish, Cambi believes he has great insight into diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
"I have a diverse background, so I have an insight as to the communities diversity, I think it's very important that a lot of diversity needs are met, whether it be communication, me, I'm a Spanish speaker, but that doesn't mean that that's the only way that we want to communicate, we want to make sure that we address anyone that has English as a barrier for communication," he explained.
"When I first came to Berkshire County, there weren't that many resources available in the Spanish language, but you know what, we need to see what our demographics are right now, what other languages do we need to serve?"
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