New director shapes up health district

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PROSPECT — Since taking the reins earlier this year, Chesprocott Health District’s newest director has steered the organization in a positive direction.

The health district, which serves Cheshire, Prospect and Wolcott, hired Cheshire resident Maura Esposito as its new director in March.

“So far it has been amazing. We have a wonderful staff. We have had a lot of excitement lately,” Esposito said.

Esposito brings 24 years of experience to the position, including serving as the director of health for Killingworth’s Health Department.

“Killingworth is similar to Prospect. It is very rural with many wells and septics,” Esposito said.

Esposito began her career in Newtown as a sanitarian, or health inspector, inspecting sewers, septic systems and restaurants.

As she rose through the ranks, Esposito worked in numerous communities, including a previous five-year stint as a health inspector with Chesprocott.

“I feel I have an idea of who to go to for what problem. You get that with time and experience,” Esposito said.

In addition to her experience, Esposito holds a bachelors degree in public health and a masters degree in health education from Southern Connecticut State University.

Esposito’s hiring follows a bit of a rocky period between the health district and the three towns it serves.

In May 2012 Thomas Wegrzyn, the health district’s previous director, sent a letter to all three towns stating the district fell into a fiscally dire condition and asked for additional funds from the towns. The letter informed the towns that they needed to pay $1 per resident to help the health district through its financial difficulty.

For Prospect, that bill came to $9,494.

In July 2012 Prospect’s Town Council voted to allow Mayor Robert Chatfield to look into the possibility of joining another health district. The towns of Wolcott and Cheshire also considered looking elsewhere for health services.

If any of the towns left the health district it would have ultimately led to the end of Chesprocott, since the district was reliant on all three towns.

Now those issues are a thing of the past, according to officials in all three towns.

Chatfield has nothing but positive words for the health district, saying all of the previous problems have been solved.

“I congratulate the board of directors in its choice in new director. We’re now getting what we are paying for,” Chatfield said.

Chatfield pointed out that Esposito has been more available to the towns as well.

Cheshire Town Manager Michael Milone and Wolcott Mayor Thomas Dunn echoed Chatfield’s sentiments.

“So far from what I’ve seen I couldn’t be happier. She’s done a great job. She’s assembled what appears to be a very comprehensive staff. It’s a welcome change,” Milone said.

Dunn said he has met with Esposito a few times and is pleased with the direction in which she has brought Chesprocott.

“She has started new things in a positive way. As of right now I can say it’s going very well,” Dunn said.

Esposito said it wasn’t just her, but the board of directors, who helped get the health district back on the right track.

“They worked very hard during the past year,” Esposito said.

Esposito said she prefers to take a hands-on approach when it comes to working with the staff. She also makes sure to attend town meetings and meet with officials.

“You have to show them you’re a reliable resource,” Esposito said.

Esposito said her next goal for Chesprocott is to become accredited.

“If you look on national level many health districts are going through public health accreditation,” Esposito said.

Esposito said this will be a long process that includes the creation of a strategic plan and health assessments.

“It’s about making sure the health department is very solid and grounded,” Esposito said.

Esposito also wants to ensure the health district’s presence is felt in each community it serves.

The health district has participated in the newly-formed Prospect Business Association’s meetings and would like to continue to work with the nonprofit organization, Esposito said.

“We would like to stay an active participant to work with businesses and have open communication with them,” Esposito said.

Esposito said the health district is currently in the process of hiring a health educator to bring programs to residents as well as businesses in the towns.

“We’d like to do a lot more outreach in the community,” Esposito said.