The Carnation’s candidate Q&A series continues with Nicole Burgett-Yandow, one of three candidates for Board of Health. See other profiles as well as letters from and about candidates here.
All candidates running in Tewksbury were invited to respond, and we appreciate those who took the time to help the Carnation inform voters.
Name: Nicole Burgett-Yandow Seat sought: Board of Health
1. Why do you want to serve on the Board of Health?
I am interested in serving on the Board of Health because I have the medical and public health expertise to be an effectively member. Residents deserve science-based information coming from the Board of Health, and with my extensive medical background, I will be able to provide this information — not only as it pertains to Covid, but also to the myriad issues that fall under the scope of the Board of Health.
I would like to increase communication from the Board of Health to residents; the Board of Health should be more visible and accessible. I would also like to highlight some of the public health programs we have available in our town and compile resources for other topics of interest. Lastly, I’ve spent time talking to residents about their needs as related to the Board of Health and have learned that more focus on mental health, both in schools and the community, is a tremendous need.
Friends and family encouraged me to run, and I believe this is the best way for me to serve the town we’ve chosen to raise our family in.
2. Give us a brief bio: Where you grew up, family, interests.
I grew up in Wisconsin and moved to Massachusetts to go to college and for a bit of an adventure! For many years, I lived in Quincy, moving briefly to Watertown before my husband and I moved to Tewksbury in 2009. We have two kids. Arden is 11 and in sixth grade at the Ryan, and my son Rourke is 9 and in fourth grade at the Trahan. We really love the community and our neighborhood and have made so many good friends.
When I’m not at work or spending time with my family, I’ve got lots of hobbies that I enjoy. I am a drummer and a knitter. I have dabbled in running since high school and focused on distance running during the pandemic, and have run several virtual half marathons. I ran my first in-person race, the Baystate Half Marathon, this past October.
3. What is your education?
I received my Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Northeastern University in 2002 and my Masters Degree in Nursing from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2010. I am certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners as a Family Nurse Practitioner, and I am licensed in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
I worked as a registered nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital on the Hematology/Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant floor from 2002 to 2003. I moved to the Infectious Disease Unit in 2003 and stayed through 2011 working as a research nurse, primarily on HIV research trials. This included medication and vaccine trials for both NIH-funded and industry trials and for AIDS Clinical Trials Group, an AIDS research collaborative. In this position, I received the “Partners in Excellence” staff recognition award.
In 2011, I began working as a nurse practitioner in primary care, and I remained there until this past summer when I moved to bariatrics and obesity medicine at Winchester Hospital.
4. What is your “day job,” and how do your past or current professional experiences prepare you for service on the BoH?
As mentioned above, my day job is currently working in bariatrics and obesity medicine at Winchester Hospital. As a nurse practitioner, my favorite part of my job is patient education; to be an effective patient educator requires an understanding of public health principles. I really enjoy finding the best way to communicate information to a group of people based on their lived experiences, understanding potential barriers and finding the best solutions given real-world circumstances.
I am an effective communicator and have learned over my years in healthcare how to interpret information, break it down into understandable chunks and communicate it to vastly different sectors of the population. My background will translate very well to the Board of Health as nearly all of its duties intersect with public health.
Additionally, my time in HIV research taught me how to review and edit research protocols, which have similarities to regulations that I will be dealing with on the Board of Health. My career has fostered an attention to detail as well as the ability to make high-stakes decisions, participate in problem solving with others and listen effectively.
5. If elected, what do you hope to accomplish in the next three years? What is your platform? (feel free to include a link to your website or Facebook page)
Enhanced communication from the Board of Health to residents will be a big focus for me if I’m elected. Residents deserve factual, timely and up-to-date information on Covid and other topics that affect them.
With my background in medicine and interest in public health, I would like to highlight programs that already exist in Tewksbury, including the affordable housing program, the Front-Line Initiative and Partners in Prevention. I have been reaching out to residents to see what topics or programs interest them and have also connected with community leaders of programs that already exist to learn what resources are available to our residents.
I look forward to having a collaborative relationship with both residents and community leaders.
6. We know that Covid will be an ongoing challenge. What are three additional. non-Covid-related issues you see in town, and how will you address them?
My overarching goal is to improve communication between the Board of Health and our community.
Residents should feel that the Board of Health is accessible to them for questions and concerns as we strive to always improve the health and quality of life for Tewksbury residents. I will explore options including social media, better utilization of the town’s website and using local print and online media when applicable to communicate with community members.
I would like to utilize my background in medicine to compile resources for information on a range of public health topics that affect the daily lives of residents, like housing, food insecurity, wellness and disease prevention. I would love to hear from residents about topics important to them and how the Board of Health can best provide this information or connect them to available resources.
Additionally, I would like to explore options to have a centralized location for the above-mentioned public-health-related topics. This information can be pushed to residents on social media pages but should also be accessible and well-organized on the town’s page.
I will also compile mental health resources. I think our town, like many, is in dire need of these services, and the Board of Health can play a role in connecting residents to them as well as exploring needs for new programs. Unfortunately, mental health tends to be viewed differently than physical health; I would like to focus on resources and programs that bring mental health to the forefront. Discussing mental health helps to dissolve the associated stigma, and I think community acknowledgment of mental health struggles is an important step to ensuring residents are well supported in this area.
There are many avenues to disseminate public health information; I am willing to explore program development and a lecture series in addition to the abovementioned online resources. I enjoy health education and look forward to coming up with creative ways to interact with the community.
7. Describe an activity, group or committee you’ve been involved with in town and what you accomplished as part of that team.
- I have volunteered in both my kid’s schools in the library. One year was disrupted by the school shutdown, so I’m back at it this year.
- I participated in a community brainstorming session that was held prior to the formation of the Elementary School Building Committee in which we gathered in small groups to discuss uses for schools that will no longer be used and which grades should be clustered together.
- I participated in a food drive to benefit the Tewksbury Food Pantry which resulted in collection of cash donations totaling $1,500 and hundreds of pounds of food.
- I am a member of 100 People Who Care Tewksbury, which is a philanthropic group that donates quarterly to local nonprofits. To date, this group has contributed over $30,000 to Alternative House, Hidden Battles and Lazarus House.
- I briefly worked as a poll worker at the rec center serving in two elections.
- I’ve also volunteered on various campaigns for local candidates.
8. What would you say to residents to encourage them to vote for you?
The Board of Health has a broad scope; however, each facet is intertwined with public health. With my extensive healthcare and public-health expertise, I can adapt my knowledge to the community at large.
I have spent my whole career communicating with people, and it’s this aspect of my job that I enjoy the most. As a problem-solver and a detail-oriented person by nature, I give my all in everything I do, and I look forward to being an active participant on the Board of Health, interacting with residents and helping to enhance the health and quality of life for all.
I especially hope to interact with residents on issues that are important to them and that affect their daily lives. I hope you will consider voting for me on April 2.
Thank you, Nicole Burgett-Yandow, NP
Next week, watch for your Planning Board candidates, and remember to vote on April 2.