U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Promoting Community Health

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Improving public health in Cambridge is a citywide effort involving many City departments and community partners. The Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD), a nationally accredited health department, spearheads the City’s public health approach and programming.

COVID-19. CPHD played a major role in the City’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (See COVID-19 section.)

The City’s Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), now in its second year, focuses on community and social resilience; healthy eating and active living; and mental health. Priority area workgroups are focusing on such activities as supporting COVID-19 testing and vaccination; acquiring funding to build two neighborhood Resilience Hubs; exploring opportunities to promote mental health services; assessing equitable access to healthy food; and offering more affordable transportation options to residents.

School Health. In FY22, students made over 13,500 visits to CPHD’s school nurses. As of March 2022, nurses had provided over 100,000 COVID-19 tests to staff and students since the beginning of the school year. School nurses were charged with caring for students whose mental health needs and issues were heightened during the pandemic, administered COVID-19 and flu vaccines at CPHD’s vaccine clinics, and provided education to families about the importance of the vaccines. The Healthy Smiles Program offered dental health guidance and provided oral health kits to all students in the program. School Health also welcomed its first Social Justice and Health Equity Specialist whose work will focus on health promotion for all Cambridge students, with a particular focus on barriers and inequities related to race/ethnicity, culture, language, and socioeconomic and LGBTQ+ status.

Clinical Services. The Health Department has statutory obligations to prevent and control communicable diseases in Cambridge. Not surprisingly, COVID-19 activities dominated CPHD’s clinical work in FY22. Beyond COVID-19, public health staff followed up on hundreds of disease reports including those related to Hepatitis A, B, C, and D, Legionellosis, Salmonellosis, and tickborne disease; administered over 2,000 flu shots; and provided several hundred visits for patients with latent and active tuberculosis at the Cambridge Hospital Schipellite Chest Center. Public health nurses also case managed the tuberculosis treatment of 8 Cambridge residents being treated for Active TB disease during the year.

Mental Health Awareness & Opioid Prevention.
The Substance Use Prevention (SUP) team continued its work to provide mental health and substance use prevention support, and awarded Youth Mental Health and Wellness mini-grants of $1,000 each to six local organizations. The team’s work in FY22 included a social media campaign for Mental Health Awareness Month; an in-service training for CPHD staff with the Men’s Health League for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month; a recovery-themed booklist with Cambridge Public Library; and a StoryWalk. The SUP team partnered with outreach staff at the Access: Drug User Health Program to offer overdose prevention training and naloxone to people getting vaccinated at shelter sites. The Substance Use Advisory Committee, co-chaired by Police Commissioner Christine Elow and Cambridge Commissioner of Public Health Assaad Sayah, created three subcommittees to focus on high-priority community issues: public safety, recovery support, and coordinated treatment and care.

The Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) team continued to promote food security resources, including food pantries, free meal programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and farmers markets that accepted SNAP, and nutrition assistance for families through the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program. HEAL coordinated with emergency food agencies, public health nurses, and state contact tracers to develop a system for providing food for residents in quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19. HEAL and partners completed their report “An Analysis of the Cambridge Food Environment: Food Retail Survey & Food Shopping Survey,” which focuses on the local food retail environment and will serve as a blueprint for creating a more equitable food environment in Cambridge. HEAL also promoted Bluebikes reduced-price memberships for qualifying residents.

Cambridge in Motion awarded 10 mini-grants of $1,000 each to support community projects that promote healthy eating and physical activity.

Coordinating Care Across Agencies. In consultation with the Human Services Commission, DHSP’s Planning and Development Division continued work to improve services for homeless and low-income families and individuals, managing federal, state, and local funding for service providers and monitoring contracts to ensure quality services. The Division coordinates the Cambridge Continuum of Care, a network of homeless service providers and stakeholders that works to create collaborative, comprehensive systems to meet the diverse needs of our homeless population. The Division implemented HUD requirements, including the annual Point-in-Time count. It served as the lead agency for Cambridge Homeless Management Information System and worked with the Multi-Service Center to prioritize homeless households for housing referrals.

Contact Us

How can we help?

Please provide as much detail below as possible so City staff can respond to your inquiry:

As a governmental entity, the Massachusetts Public Records Law applies to records made or received by the City. Any information received through use of this site is subject to the same provisions as information provided on paper.

Read our complete privacy statement

Service Requests

Enter a service request via SeeClickFix for things like missed trash pickups, potholes, etc., click here