Glastonbury's Director of Health is calling it a career after 34 years serving the town of Glastonbury. David Boone's last official day is July 31, although he will remain interim Health Director on an as-needed basis, until a new director takes the reins.
Boone began in 1980 as an operator at the town's waste water treatment plant. He began with the Health Department in 1984, when he became a health inspector. He has been director of the department since 1992.
Among the highlights of his career, Boone said one of the more interesting investigations he has taken part in was the environmental survey of the Grayledge Farm, prior to the town's acquisition of the property. Allegations of buried hazardous materials had been made, and local residents had claimed that contamination had led to health issues of a young girl.
"We did quite an extensive amount of testing up there, and ultimately, the EPA got involved and they verified our findings in the condition of the site," he said. "We never did make a connection with the little girl, but that was a challenging – and professionally – a big deal."
Boone said another incident years ago, where contamination had come from a business on New London Turnpike and affected nearby water wells, also presented challenges for his department. "It was pretty tough to knock on someone's door and tell them, 'You don't have drinking water at your house anymore,'" Boone said.
More recently, Boone said the H1N1 outbreak was quite an endeavor that ultimately lead to better practices by Glastonbury residents.
"We had done all this planning for bird flu and pandemic influenza to arrive, and then one day H1N 1 showed up in Connecticut," he said. "Glastonbury had one of the earlier cases. Our response showed the need for that sort of advanced planning. What complicates the thing was that with influenza, we considered it to be a senior citizens' program, but with H1N1, that was not the population we were trying to reach."
Since then, Boone said he still notices people coughing into their shirt sleeves, and taking other germ-spreading precautions. "It was an educational effort that was successful," he said.
The department has made leaps in the proactive side of health, especially in recent years. Boone said he owes a lot of that to his staff, including Public Health Nurse Laura Perry, who also retired this year.
"We devoted a lot of effort and resources into health education matters, including wellness clinics, obesity awareness and nutrition, and those things that Laura has been so great at," Boone said.
Boone said he doesn't have specific plans for his retirement, other than to continue his volunteer efforts maintaining and managing hiking trails, including the Salmon River Trail in Colchester, and part of the Appalachian Trail that runs through Western Connecticut.
He said he foresees his department continuing to put more effort on education, especially reducing risk factors for major illnesses. The environmental work, he said, will still be important, but is more difficult to predict.
"No one knew anything really about radon or the West Nile Virus [before they were problems]," he said. "They just kind of appear, and we react to them, and I feel we've successfully reacted to them."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun