State Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz says the 15 agencies he oversees are working toward better communication with the public – and each other.
Polanowicz was responding to a question during the Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce’s membership breakfast at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Boston in Westborough. He was the guest speaker.
“Let’s be candid. We’ve got work to do,” said Polanowicz, a Northborough resident.
“We’ve built up over time a number of agencies that are very siloed from each other. A lot of people that are using the services under my secretariat are using more than one of those services.”
Polanowicz addressed the group of business and community leaders for about 20 minutes before fielding two questions. State Reps. Carolyn Dykema (D-Holliston), Matthew Beaton (R-Shrewsbury) and George Peterson Jr. (R-Grafton) were among those present.
Polanowicz then attended his first budget hearing in Fitchburg with the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.
Polanowicz became health and human services secretary in January, succeeding JudyAnn Bigby.
Health and human services is the state’s largest secretariat, with “15 state agencies, (and) 22,000 employees,” he said.
The agencies are “working to improve the lives of some of our most vulnerable populations.”
Polanowicz said investment is required for growth – in a number of areas, including health and transportation.
Gov. Deval Patrick proposes increasing mental health funding, including for additional mental health safety programs, Polanowicz said.
“Massachusetts was the model for President Obama’s health care reform law. Now, thanks to Governor Patrick, we’re leading the way in the next phase of health care reform: cracking the code on costs,” he said.
“Recent events underscore the need for mental health services. Mental illness is a disease that can be treated. And our communities are safer, stronger when the appropriate services and supports are available to those people in need.”