Unlike many candidates who run for government, Dr. Thomas Massaro is new to town. He bought his Marblehead home on June 30, 2022. Nearly a year into his residency, Massaro is ready to leave his mark on the Board of Health. He feels his professional background, combined with experience in numerous cultures, sets him apart from his peers.
After growing up in Pittsburgh, Massaro first came to Massachusetts to study chemical engineering at MIT. He then earned his doctorate at the University of California Berkeley. This enabled him to get a job at the University of Wisconsin as a biomedical engineer, where he was eventually influenced to obtain his doctor of medicine degree. He later worked at the University of Virginia, where he opened a pediatric intensive care unit. He returned to school yet again to better understand business.
“Stanford business school where I was introduced to the big picture issues of health policy, health care management, and global health,” said Massaro.
After retiring from UVA, Massaro served as the founding dean of the University of Botswana School of Medicine in Africa. He also did public health consultation for the Southwest Virginia Regional Health Authority. His most recent position was as the chief medical officer for the New Mexico Department of Health.
Massaro expressed how important he feels the Board of Health’s role is in the community and how his status as a physician could have a great impact.
“Your public health person may cause more deaths than a cardiologist … I just want people to realize that a doc with public health experience can make a difference in this community,” explained Massaro.
He views being a new resident as a strength because he does not have any preconceived notions, biases, or relationships. One topic he lends his “outsider” view on is that of the waste Transfer Station. The controversial project has seen improvement but is still a work-in-progress by all accounts. Massaro believes it is important that the Transfer Station renovation is resolved properly and hastily. He feels that it has burdened the Board of Health for too long and kept it from being able to focus on other priorities.
“Public health is bigger than a Transfer Center” Massaro said. “We’re gonna have another health emergency, it’s not clear when or what.”
With the current financial situation of the town and the override proposal, Massaro does not feel now is the optimal time to put a large budget on Transfer Center renovations.
“It does seem to me that the two million dollar proposal that’s out there is reasonable,” he said.
Massaro said that he would seriously consider putting together an advisory panel or building committee of people with expertise on a logistical project such as the Transfer Station.
In terms of public health emergencies, Massaro said he is dedicated to resolving the mental health crisis. He is aware of the grant Marblehead Counseling Center just acquired and says they are planning on using it primarily to provide resources for aspiring clinicians to complete their training and become fully licensed. Massaro said that he would like to investigate the compensation these clinicians receive and come up with a plan to improve their pay.
“What does MassHealth pay for clinical services and how does it compare to the open market?” Massaro asked. “If there’s a clear equity gap, what can be done to help with that?”
Massaro said he feels telehealth services are one positive tool that the COVID-19 pandemic produced. If elected to the Board of Health, he said he would place an emphasis on maintaining and expanding those services, despite the worst of the pandemic being over.
Massaro is hoping to earn the vote of his new Marblehead neighbors on Tuesday, June 20.