New MA Secretary of Health and Human Services Visits Holyoke

New Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz visited the Soldier’s Home in Holyoke Thursday to open a new veterans’ assistance center. Polanowicz steps into his position at a critical time.

Under his predecessor, JudyAnn Bigby, the department oversaw a drug lab evidence tampering scandal that put thousands of criminal cases in jeopardy and has cost the state $30 million so far. Polanowicz says the lab where the tampering occurred is now under state police control.

But the department has also had to respond to a nationwide meningitis outbreak originating at a compounding pharmacy in Framingham. Polanowicz says his department has inspected 40 such pharmacies, and issued cease-and-desist orders to eleven, including two in western Massachusetts.

“Frankly, only three of them came out with a completely clean bill of health. I think what it underscored for me is that we need those resources that are in the Governor’s budget this year to continue to maintain the vigilance of the review of those compounding pharmacies.”

The department is also charged with implementing regulations on the medical marijuana law passed by voters last November. Those regulations are due May 1st. Prior to his appointment, Polanowicz held top leadership posts in hospitals and served overseas in the U.S army.