There is very little one could say that is positive in nature about the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than half a million Americans. And yet, locally, it’s a tad the opposite.

And that’s because thanks to the Cares Act of 2020, the Kearny Board of Health offices underwent a massive renovation  and what was once a pretty outdated health center is now in line with the 21st century, a place residents will be able to call upon for decades to come for the best in health services.

On Tuesday, May 18, Mayor Alberto G. Santos, Health Officer Ken Pincus, members of the town Board of Health and Town Council, along with scores of supporters, were on hand at the center for a re-dedication. It marked the first major overhaul to the center since it opened 54 years ago in 1967.

Santos and Pincus both spoke at the event, which took place on a beautiful midweek spring night.

Santos looked to the multitude of services the Health Department provides, whether to humans — and even pets — especially since the pandemic hit.

“There is so much the department provides,” he said. “Whether it’s TANF assistance, food, rabies clinics for our pets, or dog licensing, or animal control,  they’re there. We also ask the health department to look at over-grown properties. When the grass is high, who has to go out and inspect? It’s the health department. It’s the staff here. And then when there’s an outbreak, long before COVID, there were things like West Nile, bacterial viruses … there were Anthrax scares in town. Every time we ask the health department to respond. So this is a vital service to our community. 

“During the pandemic, we learned how important it is, but even before pandemic, this was a vital service in our community.”

Santos then praised all of the department’s employees, from Pincus, to Nellie Albizu, to all.

“You are much appreciated and we thank you very much,” he said, before noting how much the department also does for the town’s senior citizen population, including the operation of the jitney bus and Dial-a-Ride.

“And the Keegan Landfill — when Hudson Regional didn’t respond, who was there? The health department,” he said.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.