Health Commissioner Sigalle Reiss and the Brookline Department of Public Health & Human Services are pleased to share that a member of Brookline’s Advisory Council on Public Health will be honored statewide next month.
Adrienne (Andy) Epstein, RN, MPH, will receive the Lemuel Shattuck Award from the Massachusetts Public Health Association during a June 02, 2023 ceremony. The award is presented to a person who has made a significant contribution to the field of public health.
Epstein has been a registered nurse and a public health advocate for 45 years, evolving over that time from patient-based to community-based care.
“We’re pleased to see Andy honored for her tireless work to support the community’s health and wellbeing,” said Commissioner Reiss. “She has spent her life on the front lines of the fights against some of the gravest threats to public health over the last 40 years, including HIV/AIDS and opioid dependence, and has had a positive impact on the lives of countless people in Massachusetts and beyond.”
Epstein has played significant roles in the expansion of AIDS patient care in Massachusetts, the state’s ground-breaking needle exchange program, and later the commonwealth’s rollout of medical marijuana.
She worked for many years as a nurse at Boston City Hospital, the Cambridge VNA and the Cambridge Health Alliance. She began her career as a clinician in Mozambique, providing care to patients and mentorship to developing providers, as well as organizing vaccination and occupational health programming and preventive care.
Later in her career, Epstein expanded her focus through her work with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, working to support access to treatment and prevention efforts related to AIDS. She built on that work in the early 2000s in multiple African countries, where she consulted on HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment programming. Also in Africa, she worked to support community access to health resources in the areas within and around Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique.
“Andy mentored scores of public health professionals, who… saw in her commitment to nursing, public health, economic equity, and racial justice a paragon of leadership and creative responsiveness,” wrote Kevin Cranston, assistant commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in nominating Epstein for the award.
Epstein’s work has also included time spent advising the Boston Public Health Commission on responses to West Nile Virus and the opioid epidemic, in addition to supporting the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s work to combat opioid addiction while overseeing its HIV/AIDS, Infectious Disease and Substance Abuse Bureaus.
Epstein “understood the importance of healthy communities and the activism needed to create them long before policy, systems and environment became commonplace public health strategies,” wrote Stewart Landers, director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, in also nominating Epstein.
Epstein’s work with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health included helping to expand access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone
“I am honored to receive this award,” Epstein said. “My life’s work has been doing what I can to reduce health inequities in our communities. Communities with healthy residents are healthy communities.”
The award is named in honor of Lemuel Shattuck, an early advocate for public health in Massachusetts whose work was the foundation for the state’s initial efforts in that realm. It is presented annually to someone who has made significant contributions to the field of public health.