Lexington, Massachusetts
Lexington, Massachusetts
Lexington, Massachusetts Lexington, Massachusetts

Gerard Cody, Health Director
1625 Massachusetts Avenue
Lexington MA  02420

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Office Hours: 
Monday - Friday
8:30 am - 4:30 pm

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Health Division

Office Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday

General Information Line:  781-698-4533

FAX:  781-861-2780

Directory: all numbers are in area code 781

Health Director Gerard Cody 698-4503 email
Health Agent Kathy Fox 698-4507 email
Public Health Nurse David Neylon 698-4509 email
Health Clerk Linda Rainville 698-4508  

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Lexington residents are encouraged to learn more about
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA).

May 22, 2015.   Over the past 21 months, the Town of Lexington Public Health Division, Human Services Department and other community organizations like Lexington Youth and Family Services and Basic Needs US have been collaborating in a Healthy Communities Project funded with grant monies from the Community Health Network Alliance (http://www.chna15.org/drupal7/About ).   Lexington is one of 27 communities that participate in the CHNA 15 organization which has a goal to build healthier communities through community based prevention planning and health promotion. 

The Lexington Public Health Division obtained grant funds from CHNA 15 to Conduct Mental Health First Aid training classes in Lexington. One of the goals of the grant would be to improve mental health care through expanding awareness of the related issues and improving access to existing community based mental health services. 

When a loved one has heart disease or cancer, families rally around — they cook, clean, drive their loved ones to doctor’s appointments, give pep talks, and much more. But when someone is struggling with depression, anxiety, trauma, or other mental conditions, family members are not sure what to do, which can be heartbreaking when what they want more than anything is to help their loved one.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) may help people recognize the symptoms described above in a person experiencing a mental health issue. Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course delivered by a trained, certified instructor that teaches participants to help people experiencing a mental health problem or crisis. The training helps community residents identify, understand, and respond to signs of substance abuse and mental illnesses in their family, workplace or community.  Mental Health First Aid focuses on the strategies that can be used until professional help is obtained.

Mental Health First Aid USA is an evidence-based practice listed in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices. It has already been sponsored by four Massachusetts cities and towns, numerous non-profit organizations and the states of Arizona and Missouri.  Across the nation, the rising rates of suicide and increasing awareness of the needs to treat schizophrenia and excessive alcohol and other drug abuse early are driving the need to develop community-wide responses to these issues.

Here are some common questions and answers about Mental Health First Aid:

What is Mental Health First Aid Training?

An 8-hour training for residents on how to help someone experiencing a mental health problem or crisis until professional help is available. A public education program designed to:

  • reduce stigma
  • improve mental health literacy
  • empower individuals

What are some of the most common topics discussed?

This training will educate participants about:

  • Depression
  • Suicide and Self-Injury
  • Anxiety Disorders (including PTSD)
  • Psychotic Disorders
  • Substance Use Disorders

What will I learn from a Mental Health First Aid Training?

  • Signs of addictions and mental illnesses
  • 5-step action plan to assess a situation and help
  • Impact of mental and substance use disorders
  • Local resources and where to turn for help

Who is the trainer?

Joy Gallon, LICSW is the Director of Community Intervention at the Edinburg Center. Joy is a certified MHFA trainer for both the Adult and Youth curriculum. www.edinburgcenter.org

Who is the sponsor and how is this funded?

CHNA 15 (Community Health Network Area) has funded the Lexington Health Division, in collaboration with Lexington Youth & Family Services, Basic Needs, Lexington Human Services and other groups, to provide a limited number of free MHFA trainings to Lexington residents and organizations. These trainings are the result of an 18-month Lexington Healthy Communities Survey process which looked to identify ways to improve the overall health and quality of life of the Lexington community.

The CHNA 15 grant is coordinated by Faye Andrews, MPH who recently participated in one of the Mental Health First Aid Training events. Her experience was positive, “I was blown away by the useful techniques and practical knowledge of the training. Joy did a wonderful job enticing class participation and allowing a safe space for individuals to express their thoughts and experiences.” Her experience was shared by a diverse crowd of Lexington community leaders from multiple religious groups to students.

For more information, contact the Office of Community Development, Health Division in the Town Office Building at 1625 Massachusetts Avenue. If you have any questions concerning this matter, you may contact Gerard F. Cody, REHS/RS at (781) 698-4522 or by email at gcody@lexington.ma.

Norovirus Prevention Tips

Norovirus, sometimes called viral gastroenteritis or “stomach flu”, is a viral illness that causes acute diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain in humans. Norovirus is very contagious, and is spread through contaminated food or water, by contact with an infected person, or by contamination in the environment. Individuals can become infected with norovirus and spread it to others for 24-48 hours before they begin exhibiting symptoms. Infected individuals usually have symptoms of norovirus for 1-2 days, but may shed the virus in their stool for up to 2 weeks after recovering. Outbreaks of norovirus are common in communal settings such as schools, daycare facilities and nursing homes.

Good hand hygiene is the best way to prevent the transmission of norovirus.  Hands should be washed with warm water and soap for 15-20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can also be used in addition to hand washing to help prevent the transmission of norovirus.

Those experiencing symptoms of norovirus should stay home from school or work while they are ill. They should continue to be vigilant about hand washing even after they are feeling better, as norovirus can still be transmitted once they have recovered. Those who are involved in food preparation should remain home for 72 hours after they feel better, as food and drink contaminated with norovirus is a common way the disease is spread. Sharing of food and drink, or communal food should be stopped while norovirus is being experienced in your community.

Besides remaining at home while contagious, another way to prevent the spread of norovirus is proper cleaning of environmental surfaces contaminated with norovirus. The virus can live on surfaces for several hours and it only requires a small amount of the virus (<100 viral particles) to infect someone.

If a vomit or fecal spillage occurs, the area should be sanitized with an Environmental Protection Agency approved disinfectant or a freshly prepared sodium hypochlorite (bleach) solution. The bleach solution should be a 1:50 dilution; mix 1/3 cup bleach with 1 gallon water. For heavily soiled surfaces, use a dilution of 1:10, or 1 2/3 cup bleach to one gallon of water. Allow the solution to be in contact with the surface for 10-20 minutes or until it has air dried. Materials that may be put in children’s mouths (e.g. toys) should be rinsed. For porous surfaces such as upholstered furniture, carpets or clothing, clean visible debris with an absorbent, double-layer material. Steam clean or wash the contaminated surface at 158° F for 5 minutes or 212° F for 1 minute.  Staff should wear disposable gloves when cleaning areas contaminated by feces or vomitus. Throw away all disposable materials in sealed bags. Bathrooms and other communal spaces should be cleaned more frequently during suspected norovirus outbreaks. Frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, telephones, and computer mice, should be disinfected with an approved product (as noted above).

For More Information:
Please contact the Office of Community Development, Health Division, Gerard Cody, Health Director at 781-698-4503 or gcody@lexingtonma.gov .  You may also visit the CDC page on Norovirus: http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/index.html or review the MDPH fact sheet:

http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/cdc/factsheets/nlv.pdf . The Lexington Board of Health brought this important message to you.

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Lexington, Massachusetts
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