Dear Friends,

We hope you and your loved ones have remained healthy and safe amidst the ongoing challenges that continue to be brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we prepare to wrap up 2021, we wanted to reflect on what has been a challenging but rewarding year for The Kraft Center. In addition to the morbidities and mortalities caused directly by the virus, this past year saw a large spike in what some are calling the "second toll" of health conditions from causes other than COVID. Our center remains committed to expanding access to high quality care for all individuals, and identifying and confronting systemic racism to fight for more equitable health outcomes.
Despite the challenges we continue to face, I am proud of The Kraft Center team and the work of our partners for all that we have been able to accomplish during these trying times. Our staff and our collaborators have gone above and beyond to respond not only to the needs of the community presented by the pandemic, but also to ensure the ongoing success of our other programs providing essential services, all the while continuing to develop innovative solutions to address society's most pressing public health issues. I'm grateful for all of their incredible dedication and hard work over the past year.
As we enter 2022, we remain ever committed and resolved in our mission to ensure vulnerable populations have access to the best quality health care. We will work closely with our partners to sustain and grow our existing programs confronting such pressing issues as COVID relief, addiction, and cancer care equity while exploring new opportunities to identify and innovate new solutions and to serve and empower communities. As always, many thanks to The Kraft Center staff, our community and academic partners, and our donor families and organizations for making our work possible.
Happy Holidays,  
Elsie Taveras, MD MPH
Executive Director, Kraft Center for Community Health
Chief Community Health Equity Officer, Mass General Brigham
Mobilizing COVID-19 Vaccines and Testing
Photo credit: Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe
Addressing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic remained a top priority as the virus continued to impact the health, education, and economy of our surrounding communities. True to our mission of expanding access to high quality care to vulnerable populations through innovations, The Kraft Center's mobile health team, in partnership with Mass General Brigham and led by Medical Director Dr. Priya Sarin Gupta, mobilized community vaccination and testing efforts, bringing these free services directly to Massachusetts communities disproportionately impacted by COVID. Since January 4, 2021 the mobile program has administered 5,206 vaccines and has conducted 4,200 tests in Chelsea, Revere, Everett, Lynn, and Boston. These efforts are supported by grants from the Aetna Foundation, an independent and philanthropic affiliate of CVS Health that supports projects to promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone, and from Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics in Underserved Populations (RADx-UP), a nationwide initiative sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) aimed at enhancing COVID-19 testing in marginalized communities.
Photo credit: Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe
The mobile efforts of Mass General Brigham, The Kraft Center, and its partners were featured in an article in The Boston Globe this fall, “Chelsea, a city hit hard by COVID, has become a vaccination standout” highlighting coordinated COVID-19 response efforts in Chelsea, Mass. A huge thank you to our incredible partners who made this possible, including La Colaborativa, City of Chelsea, Massachusetts Executive Office of Health & Human Services (EOHHS), Mass General Brigham, MGH Center for Community Health Improvement, MGH Equity & Community Health, and MGH Division of Infectious Diseases. We are lucky to work with many community programs and agencies across Greater Boston to ensure that community members have equitable access to important care.
Our local RADx-UP project in Massachusetts (RADx-MA), a collaboration between The Kraft Center, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, continues to support community health centers in expanding COVID-19 testing in underserved communities. To date, the program has resulted in an additional 104,000 COVID-19 tests across five Massachusetts community health centers: Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, Caring Health Center, DotHouse Health, Family Health Center of Worcester, and Lynn Community Health Center.
RADx-UP Rapid Research Pilot Grant
In January 2022, The Kraft Center's COVID response team, led by Dr. Priya Sarin Gupta, will begin a pilot project to supplement our ongoing COVID response work to expand access to services for underserved populations in Revere. The team received a $336,000 Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics in Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) Coordination and Data Collection Center (CDCC) Community Collaboration Pilot Grant to work with community partners in Revere to provide testing to individuals experiencing homelessness with enhanced outreach and point of care testing. In the below video, Dr. Sarin Gupta shares about the importance of the services that will be provided during the upcoming pilot.
Community Care in Reach® Mobile Addiction Services
Photo credit: Jessie Gaeta, MD of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Community Care in Reach® program continued to bring essential addiction services to people experiencing barriers to care. Between the two sites in Boston and Brockton, Community Care in Reach teams have made 17,984 contacts with people with substance use disorder, 2,430 clinical encounters, and 1,403 buprenorphine prescriptions since the program first hit the streets in Boston in January 2018. A huge thank-you to our partners Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, the Boston Public Health Commission, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, and the GE Foundation for making this all possible.
Photo Credit: Brockton Neighborhood Health Center mobile team
Tapestry in Springfield and UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, both funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), have had delayed starts due to supply chain issues, but will be launching their mobile addiction programs in the coming months with mobile vans generously donated by The Robert K. Kraft Family. The Kraft Center also continues its work with the Brandeis Heller School for Social Policy and Management to evaluate the state-funded mobile addiction programs with an emphasis on programmatic reach and sustainability. The team is led by Dr. Dominic Hodgkin and include Drs. Constance Horgan, Cynthia Tschampl, Margot Davis, Mary Brolin, and Traci Green.
On April 30, 2021, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center launched their mobile addiction unit to bring harm reduction services and clinical care to people living with addiction in Brockton. Made possible by a generous donation from The Robert K. Kraft Family, the Brockton team made 84 contacts with people with substance use disorder, 11 clinical encounters, and provided multiple buprenorphine prescriptions during its first 3 months on the streets. A short video from the program launch is above.
The Center also partnered with RIZE Massachusetts Foundation and the National Harm Reduction Coalition to host a webinar on December 14 entitled “Harm Reduction. Housing. Hope.” The presentation explored the intersection of addiction and housing insecurity and provided an overview of effective strategies for providing services to people experiencing both. The urgency of the ongoing housing crisis both locally and nationally requires collaboration and coordination, so we intend that this is just the start of an ongoing conversation with local stakeholders. Click the above link to see a video of the complete webinar.
If you missed the previous webinar “Innovations in Addiction Treatment and Harm Reduction” from The Kraft Center and RIZE Massachusetts Foundation earlier this year, see the full program HERE.
New Initiative to Support Addiction Services for Justice-Involved Populations
Through a generous gift from Jill and Michael Stansky, The Kraft Center is working with the MGH Substance Use Disorders Initiative (MGH SUDs) on a pilot project to provide navigation to individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) between the Nashua Street Jail, the Boston-based Community Care in Reach (CCiR) mobile addiction van, and the MGH Bridge Clinic. A Peer Support Specialist (PSS) will provide in-reach in the Nashua Street Jail to form meaningful connections with people and support their near-term health goals. The PSS will serve as a navigator at every step of the patient's treatment and recovery by helping bridge services, removing obstacles to care, and educating patients about treatment and harm reduction strategies. This initiative builds on a previous SAMHSA-funded program from MGH SUDs that helped to establish a robust partnership with the Nashua Street Jail. The goal of this year-long project is to bolster an important pipeline to care for this highly vulnerable population and to work closely with CCiR and the MGH Bridge Clinic to ensure successful referrals. We are prioritizing a rigorous evaluation of the program to demonstrate the effectiveness of engaging, referring, and sustaining people with addiction in treatment programs for SUD.
The Kraft Center Receives iSolve Award from MGH Springboard Studio for Mobile Health Planning
In fall 2021, The Kraft Center was awarded an iSolve Award from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Springboard Studio to ideate the future of mobile programming at The Kraft Center and Mass General Brigham. In 2022, the center will work alongside MGH Springboard Studio to develop a long-term vision for mobile health, exploring multiple models and use cases, building off the success of its Community Care in Reach mobile addiction services program and its mobile COVID response initiative. The priority for any future mobile health initiative is to further The Kraft Center's mission of expanding access to high quality health care for vulnerable populations.
Cancer Care Equity
The Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control Equity (ISCCCE), a collaboration between The Kraft Center, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers continues to launch innovative strategies to reduce disparities in cancer care and is excited to announce the latest round of pilot projects resulting from the recent request for applications (RFA) and supplemental funding:
  • Use of Electronic Tools to Increase Efficiency and Uptake of Cancer Screening in Community Health Centers in the Post-Pandemic Era | Project Lead: Dr. Lynn Ibekwe
  • Improving Cancer Screening Completion and Follow-Up in Community Health Centers | Project Lead: Dr. Lynn Ibekwe
  • Advancing Health Equity through Implementation Science: Environmental Scans and Cross-Site Collaboration | Project Lead: Dr. Erica Warner 
  • Eliminating Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening at Community Health Centers Using Rapid Cycle Testing (Preparing for the Updated USPSTF CRC Screening Guidelines) | Project Lead: Dr. Adjoa Anyane-Yeboa
  • A Systematic Approach to Designing an Implementation Strategy to Increase Smoking Cessation Treatment and Lung Cancer Screening Among FQHC Patients Who Smoke | Project Lead: Dr. Gina Kruse 
  • Bridging the Gap: Understanding and Addressing Utilization of Immunotherapy for Melanoma | Project Lead: Dr. Alan Geller
The ISCCCE Implementation Laboratory (I-Lab), has continued to partner with four Massachusetts community health centers, meeting virtually to complete their projects aimed at improving colorectal cancer screenings by pairing cancer screening with screening and mitigation of social determinants of health. The I-Lab is coordinating with pilot study investigators and health center staff to begin analyzing the results of this work.
I-Lab team meets virtually with community health centers.
ISCCCE has also hosted the following Implementation Learning Community sessions:

September 28, 2021: Promoting Equitable Delivery of Care Through the Lens of Lung Cancer Screening: Opportunities & Challenges

Keynote speakers:
Efrén Flores, MD
Officer of Radiology Community Health & Equity at MGH and Assistant Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School
Elyse Park, PhD, MPH
Clinical Associate in Psychology, Program Director, Cancer Center SmokeFree Support Service, Professor of Psychiatry & Medicine at MGH, Harvard Medical School
To learn more, a video of the presentation is available to view HERE.
December 7, 2021: Quality Improvement, Learning Health Systems, and Implementation Science: different names for the same concept?

Keynote speaker:
Meghan Lane-Fall, MD, MSHP, FCCM
Vice Chair of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity and David E. Longnecker Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care & Associate Professor of Epidemiology
Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

To learn more, a video of the presentation is available to view HERE.

And to view more materials related to ISCCCE and other cancer care equity efforts, please visit the ISCCCE website as well as The Kraft Center's website for more information.
Dr. Taveras named Chief Community Health Equity Officer for Mass General Brigham in May
In May 2021, Kraft Center Executive Director, Elsie M. Taveras, MD, MPH, was named the inaugural Chief Community Health Equity Officer for Mass General Brigham. In this role, Dr. Taveras works collaboratively with leaders from across the system to lead Mass General Brigham forward as a force for change in confronting inequity and racism. Taveras is leading the system efforts of United Against Racism focused on patient care and health equity and is driving a new systemwide strategy in community health; all with a focus on demonstrable outcomes.

Dr. Taveras started this new role in mid-May while continuing her health disparities research in the Department of Pediatrics at Mass General Hospital for Children and her leadership of the Kraft Center for Community Health at Mass General Hospital.

Donations of Empowerment Coats by the Patriots Foundation Support Patients During Winter
Patrick Bonville, case manager from Lynn Community Health Center, holds up a coat
This winter, thanks to a generous donation by the Patriots Foundation, The Kraft Center was able to distribute empowerment coats to multiple agencies in Massachusetts serving populations experiencing housing insecurity. These coats are especially helpful because they can convert into sleeping bags for extra warmth during the cold winter nights! In addition to passing the coats out on The Kraft Center Community Care Van, we've provided coats to the following agencies to help distribute to those in need: Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Tapestry, UMass Memorial Medical Center, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, Caring Hearts Ministry at the First Congregational Church in Revere, the Brigham's mobile health team, and the Lynn Community Health Center and My Brother's Table teams in Lynn. A huge thank you again to the Patriots Foundation for making this all possible!
New Publication in Preventive Medicine Reports on Mobile Childhood Vaccine Efforts
Last year, The Kraft Center partnered with Mattapan Community Health Center, Codman Square Health Center, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, and Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers to mobilize childhood vaccines and primary care services during the initial surge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In December 2021, we published an article in Preventive Medicine Reports called "Using mobile clinics to deliver care to difficult-to-reach populations: A COVID-19 practice we should keep" which shared our experiences with the project and demonstrated the possibilities of expanding access to myriad health services through mobile outreach. A huge thank-you to our intern Abby Leibowitz for leading the writing and to our entire project staff for helping to ensure patients receive essential care while experiencing unprecedented barriers!
New Kraft Center & Harvard Chan Fellow -
Dr. Lynn Ibekwe
We want to introduce our new fellow, Dr. Lynn Ibekwe! Lynn is a postdoctoral research fellow within the Harvard Education Program in Cancer Prevention with a dual appointment in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at the Harvard School of Public Health and at the Kraft Center for Community Health. She is helping to lead implementation and evaluation efforts for projects with the Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control Equity (ISCCCE)’s Implementation Laboratory including the Improving Cancer Screening and Follow-up in Community Health Centers project. Lynn obtained a PhD in Behavioral Sciences from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health in 2021, an MPH in social and behavioral sciences from Boston University in 2013, and a BA in medicine, health, & society as well as sociology from Vanderbilt University in 2011. Prior to coming to the Kraft Center, she worked as a Project Director within the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research at UTHealth School of Public Health managing evaluation activities for a state-funded project to accelerate colorectal cancer screening in Federally Qualified Health Centers in Texas. Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Lynn!
Updates from our Health Career Connection (HCC) and CURE Interns
Elizabeth Do served as a HCC intern with the Kraft Center in summer 2021 assisting both the Community Care in Reach mobile addiction services program as well as the Connect 4 Health initiative. She is now on contract as a chemistry manufacturing technician at PerkinElmer making reagent kits. She will be converted to a full time associate chemist in January. Elizabeth is also working part time at Beth Israel as a patient care technician. She hopes to apply to medical school in the next couple years.
Segovia Lucas interned at The Kraft Center this past summer through Dana Farber's CURE Internship Program while also a student at Tufts University pursuing an Interdisciplinary Studies degree with concentrations in Spanish, Community Health, and Biology. Following her internship, Segovia was hired to support The Kraft Center's mobile efforts part-time while she continues her studies. Her ultimate goal is to attend medical school to obtain her MD/MPH and practice as a physician. 
Since interning with HCC at the Kraft Center in summer of 2020, Alexis Sarpong has graduated from the UMass Lowell with a BS in Public Health. Despite commencement being postponed due to COVID, it was a rewarding experience for her to walk across the stage. She is now less than a year away from completing her MPH with a focus in Epidemiology. Alexis says that interning with the Kraft Center provided her with great exposure and insight on public health career opportunities. Upon graduating, her goal is to use these skills and experiences to work in health equity-focused research.
Annabelle Aguirre was an HCC intern at The Kraft Center in summer 2019, supporting both the Community Care in Reach program and the Build Our Kids' Success program in Revere. She has since finished her second semester at Northeastern University Doctor of Physical Therapy program. She reports enjoying the program and gaining a lot of hands-on skills, including manual muscle test, stretching, range of motion, and wound care. Annabelle also volunteers at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center Get Up and Go Exercise program.
Our first HCC intern in summer 2018 was Kene Aniagboso, who will be graduating with her Doctorate of Pharmacy this upcoming May 2022 from MCPHS University. Following graduation, she plans to pursue a postgraduate residency training to strengthen her clinical skills and subsequently become a clinical pharmacist, specifically in oncology and pain management. She recently presented her lymphoma research project evaluating the characteristics that may predispose patients to readmissions at the National Midyear Clinical meeting. Kene is also a committee member of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Student Forum focusing on projects pertaining to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Promotion within pharmacy schools.