News & Updates from 2020
Dear Friends,

We hope you and yours are healthy and staying safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic difficulties in its wake. We are keenly aware of and saddened by the tremendous toll this virus is taking across the world, and the grim reality of substantially high mortality rates in low-income communities and among racial/ethnic minority populations. Against the stark backdrop of the pandemic, we have also witnessed the senseless and vexing pervasiveness of structural racism. We are living through unsettling times and we join our fellow community members in seeking transformational change. 

 

During these times of unprecedented challenges, I am prouder than ever to be a part of The Kraft Center, Mass General, and our response. While it has been humbling to see the damage and upheaval caused by the virus, it has also been incredible to see the hard work of so many of my fellow clinicians and community health practitioners. I am especially thankful and heartened by the out-sized efforts of our community health team and partner organizations, who, as you'll see below, have continued to keep the most vulnerable in mind despite the hardships of this year.  

 

Our primary lever for change is through the funding and implementation of innovative programming to expand access to high quality healthcare. Since its inception, The Kraft Center has prioritized programs that aim to increase access for vulnerable populations, particularly those greatly impacted by structural racism and stigma. In the coming year, addressing this structural racism will be at the forefront of our minds as we expand and iterate on our existing programs and explore new opportunities to serve and strengthen communities most impacted. Thank you to the Kraft Center staff, our community and academic partners, and our donor families and organizations for making the Center's work possible.

 

Happy Holidays,  

Elsie Taveras, MD MPH
Executive Director, Kraft Center for Community Health
Mobile Health & Addiction

Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) supports expansion of mobile addiction services in Massachusetts

After two successful years providing mobile addiction services in Boston, new state funding has expanded the Community Care in Reach® mobile health initiative to additional localities in Massachusetts and support of current efforts in Boston. 

On May 20, 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (BSAS) announced that four agencies in Massachusetts would receive funding to expand mobile addiction services. These agencies include UMass Memorial Medical CenterTapestryStanley Street Treatment and Resources, Inc. (SSTAR), and Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program as the clinical partners for The Kraft Center's current Boston-based Community Care in Reach mobile program.

The Massachusetts Harm Reduction Commission had previously highlighted the Boston-based Community Care in Reach program (formerly known as CareZONE) in their March 2019 report and recommended expanding mobile services as a best practice for confronting the overdose epidemic. This new state funding, provided through the Mobile Addiction Services grant program, commits $1.4 million annually over 5 years to supporting increased access through mobile programming to addiction services such as medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) and harm reduction services including syringe exchange. 

Donations by the Robert K. Kraft Family provide critical capital resources to make expansion possible in Western and Central Massachusetts

In addition to state-funded support for operational costs, a generous donation by the Robert K. Kraft Family will provide state-of-the-art mobile units to two agencies funded through the state grant program. The provision of these vans will enable UMass Memorial Medical Center and Tapestry to mobilize their comprehensive addiction work.



We also want to thank the GE Foundation for their early and ongoing support that has made Community Care in Reach such a success. We value their continued partnership that has made van operations, harm reduction services, and evaluation of Community Care in Reach as a best practice possible.
Meet the MDPH Awardees:

 

 

Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, The Boston-based Community Care in Reach mobile unit received one of the five-year grants. Funds will be used to extend the program's clinical hours to best respond to the ongoing overdose epidemic in the city. BHCHP will continue its partnership with the Boston Public Health Commission's AHOPE program and the GE Foundation.

 

 
UMass Memorial Medical Center (UMMMC) will bring mobile addiction services to diverse communities in Central New England using the Community Care in Reach model. UMMMC is the largest not-for-profit health care delivery system in Central MA with 1,700 physicians and 13,000 employees. They will be working with AIDS Project Worcester providing clinical sessions 5 days/week to people with addiction in areas with high rates of overdose.

 

Tapestry mobile health team

Another recipient is Tapestry, an organization that provides compassionate care to people with barriers to health and healthcare in Western Massachusetts.  Tapestry's priority populations include people who use drugs (PWUD) as well as women, LGBTQ people, and people with low incomes. This new funding will augment existing mobile syringe services with clinical addiction services, serving five cities across Western Massachusetts under the Community Care in Reach model.

 

Stanley Street Treatment and Resources, Inc. (SSTAR) will mobilize addiction services in Fall River and New Bedford.  SSTAR's mission is to provide a quality continuum of care and support to all people, especially those affected by addiction, by responding to their mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. By building on existing program models, SSTAR intends to strengthen internal collaboration and offer important addiction services in a new way to the Fall River and New Bedford communities.  

New Mobile Addiction Technical Assistance and Evaluation Center funded by Massachusetts Department of Public Health 

In September 2020, The Kraft Center was awarded a 4-year contract by the MDPH to provide technical assistance and evaluation to the agencies across the state that are implementing Mobile Addiction Services. 

 

 

 
Technical Assistance (TA): The Center will assist mobile programs in all activities including licensure, staffing models, community engagement, outreach strategies, and mobile clinical care. We will also partner with RIZE Massachusetts to create a virtual learning community and resource repository to facilitate sharing best practices and informational toolkits. 

 

Evaluation: The Center has also contracted with the Brandeis Heller School for Social Policy and Management to evaluate the MDPH-funded mobile addiction programs with an emphasis on programmatic reach and sustainability. The team will be led by Dr. Dominic Hodgkin and include Drs. Constance Horgan, Cynthia Tschampl, Margot Davis, Mary Brolin, and Traci Green.
Expanding National Awareness of Community Care in Reach

The Kraft Center and partners at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program and the Boston Public Health Commission's AHOPE team were published in Frontiers in Public Health in September. The article, entitled Community Care in Reach: Mobilizing Harm Reduction and Addiction Treatment Services for Vulnerable Populations describes our mobile health model as well as its early successes in treating high-risk individuals living with addiction.
Brockton Neighborhood Health Center Readies Community Care in Reach Launch for Early 2021
Brockton mobile health team

Brockton Neighborhood Health Center is launching a Community Care in Reach site in early 2021 to serve people living with addiction in the Greater Brockton area. The program will be part of the health center's new mobile services program that is funded by the National Institutes of Health's "HEALing Communities Study." The mobile program was also made possible by a generous donation of a mobile medical trailer by the Robert K. Kraft Family. The program will serve communities hardest hit by the opioid crisis, with a goal of identifying the tools most effective at preventing and treating substance use disorder at the local level. They will work closely with the BAMSI (Brockton Area Multi-Services, Inc.) COPE (Community Outreach, Prevention and Education) Center on this initiative. The medical trailer is being custom built by a local company, Flexetail, and the program will officially launch in early 2021.
Expansion of Mobile Addiction Programming for Youth & Young Adults
Funding from The Hearst Foundation will support mobile addiction programming tailored for youth and young adults (YYA) in 2021. The initiative, a partnership between The Kraft Center, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, and Bridge Over Troubled Waters, uses the Community Care in Reach mobile unit to bring medical care and addiction services directly to youth 15-24 who are at greatest risk for overdose. The funding will support clinics in Downtown Boston in close collaboration with Bridge Over Troubled Waters' own mobile medical unit. The Hearst Foundation has been a long-term supporter of Kraft Center initiatives, having been a key contributor to the launch of our first mobile unit in January 2018. We are thrilled their support will help us bring these much-needed services to this hard-to-reach population.
RIZE Massachusetts Support of Harm Reduction & Community Outreach

 
RIZE Massachusetts announced in October 2020 continued support to the Community Care in Reach program through their Enabling Health, Enhancing Harm Reduction Services grant for a third year. Funding has supported the Boston Public Health Commission's AHOPE program to implement a novel drug checking protocol and peer-to-peer outreach program to educate, empower, and engage people with addiction.
COVID-19 Response Initiatives
Image courtesy of the Boston Globe
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to re-imagine how we deliver medical and public health services especially to vulnerable communities and populations. The Kraft Center and its community partners have risen to the challenge, adapting its program to meet the changing needs of the community. 

Dr. Elsie Taveras, Craig Regis, and Josh Kraft, Board Chair of The Kraft Center authored a Boston Globe op-ed called "Mobilizing Health Care During Coronavirus" that highlights the opportunities that mobile health programs present to confronting the pandemic and overcoming barriers to quality health services.  Below are a few examples of how The Kraft Center has participated in the pandemic response efforts using mobile health and other strategies.
The Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics in Underserved Populations in Massachusetts (RADx-MA) study is a collaboration between the Kraft Center for Community Health at Mass General, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, funded by the National Institutes of Health. RADx-MA aims to support Massachusetts Community Health Centers in expanding COVID-19 testing in underserved communities. The NIH-funded grant will also support the development of infrastructure to ensure equitable access to future COVID mitigation and prevention strategies.

Partnering Community Health Centers for RADx-MA include: DotHouse Health Center (Dorchester), Caring Health Center - Springfield, Brockton Community Health Center (Brockton), Lynn Community Health Center (Lynn), Family Health Center (Worcester), MGH Chelsea, Revere, Charlestown, Everett.
Kraft Center Executive Director Joins the Spanish Language Care Group to Support COVID Care Teams at MGH
This spring, Kraft Center executive director, Dr. Elsie Taveras, joined a team of physicians to support Spanish-speaking patients receiving COVID care. As part of Massachusetts General Hospital's COVID-19 response efforts, 62 Spanish-speaking clinicians-from trainees to full professors across multiple specialties-were recently assembled to assist teams caring for patients with low-English proficiency by relaying condition updates, educating patients and their families about their care plan, and assisting in the daily rounding process, either in person or via telephone, Skype or FaceTime.

Spanish Language Care Group (SLCG) was launched to act as an appendage to the clinical team caring for patients with low-English proficiency. The initiative was designed and launched by Dr. Joseph Betancourt, vice president and chief equity and inclusion officer at Mass General, and Elena Olson, executive director of the Mass General Center for Diversity and Inclusion and works closely with the Mass General Interpreter Services Department, made up of nationally trained and certified medical interpreters who provide remote and in-person services-to non-English, limited English proficient, and deaf or hard-of-hearing patients-in more than 200 languages.
Supporting Community Health Center Immunizations

Lead Pediatrician at Mattapan Community Health Center Laura Livaditis, MD, FAAP (left) and Kellen Martins, RN examine a patient
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Elizabeth Moran (right) from Codman Square Health Center gives an immunization to a patient held by mother..
This summer during a pause in mobile addiction services at the peak of the spring COVID-19 surge in Massachusetts, The Kraft Center lent its Community Care in Reach mobile health unit to support community health center efforts to boost pediatric vaccination rates that have lagged during the pandemic. In collaboration with the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and with logistical support from Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Mattapan Community Health Center and Codman Square Community Health Center were able to use the Community Care in Reach mobile unit to bring vaccines curbside for their patients two days per week through the summer.

Kellen Martins, RN from Codman Square Health Center gives an immunization to a patient.

Starting in early July, each health center began meeting their pediatric patients at their residences for immunizations and wellness checks. Vaccine clinics ran from 7/8 to 9/2, served families primarily in the Mattapan and Dorchester neighborhoods. Eighty percent of patients identified as Black/African American and 22% identified as Hispanic/Latino. Community Care in Reach resumed addiction services at a reduced schedule in June, but the mobile vaccine initiative continued operating during the program's off-hours. The service was very well received by the patients at Codman and Mattapan, with one patient's mother wondering if the "magic truck" would be returning to their house for their next appointment.
HUGS/Abrazos Emergency COVID Relief Program is Launched

HUGS/Abrazos, is a program funded by The Boston Foundation aiming to support pregnant women and young families who are particularly vulnerable to emotional, financial, and other stressors resulting from the effects of COVID-19 in the community. Young children and their families are particularly vulnerable to the social isolation and economic challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. Once a family is referred to the program, a HUGS social worker and/or community health worker provide mental health screening, social and behavioral health support, and tailored community resource navigation. Through December 13, there have been 152 referrals to the program, 67% of which identified a social determinant of health related need, 16% identified a mental health need, and 17% identified a need for both.

 

All families engaged in the HUGS/Abrazos program receive a care package including 1) a $50 grocery gift card, 2) face masks for children and adults, 3) hand sanitizer, 4) a handout on COVID-19 care for family members, 5) a bilingual children's book, 6) a ChopChop healthy cooking magazine, 7) First 1,000 Days educational booklets to support healthy pregnancy and infancy. All materials are available to patients in English and Spanish.  The care packages provided immediate food assistance given the high prevalence of food insecurity, and encouraged healthy practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The HUGS Team
Water delivery en route to community partners.
Sending Supplies to the Front Lines of the Pandemic Response

As Massachusetts faced the surge of COVID-19 cases in mid-April, health care facilities across Greater Boston rapidly mobilized to test, treat, and isolate a large influx of patients.  During this crucial response phase, with funding from RIZE Massachusetts, The Kraft Center supported high-risk patients at both the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program COVID isolation and quarantine tents as well the Boston HOPE field clinic at the Boston Convention Center.  We were able to supply 1,000 pairs of socks, headphones, combs, tissues, moisturizer, and toothpaste, all of which our partners indicated there was a great need for the patients. We were also able to support intermittent water/food drop-offs as well as other supplies to support the well-being and comfort of the patients.

Program Manager Craig Regis delivers Dunkin' Donuts gift cards to Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) - Photo credit BHCHP
The Patriots Foundation also generously donated gift cards for patients, front line workers, and other populations deeply impacted by the pandemic. The Kraft Center staff distributed the cards to the MGH Chelsea Food Pantry to support families with food insecurity during the pandemic; to the Charlestown Coalition where there were included in "recovery kits" for people who regularly attend AA meetings; to Revere City Hall for distribution to community workers involved in COVID-19 response efforts; to essential workers at Boston HOPE field hospital; and to Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program who gave them to patients seen in their isolation and quarantine tents.



MassGeneral Hospital for Children also received a generous gift from The Patriots
Foundation
, who, among other items, donated dozens of 
Patriots Build-a-Bear teddy bears, school backpacks, and supplies and hats for patients being cared in Chelsea Respiratory Infection Clinic (RIC). The Foundation also provided food donations to pantries in Chelsea and Revere, and donating diapers to families in need in Chelsea. We are so grateful for their support!
Kraft Center Staff Redeployed to Assemble Mass General Brigham 
"COVID-19 Readiness Kits"

It was all hands on deck during the pandemic surge this spring, and workers all across Mass General Brigham (MGB) shifted activities to help with the response. Kraft Center program managers Craig Regis and Madeline Davies joined other MGB workers at headquarters in Somerville to package COVID-19 Readiness Kits for distribution to vulnerable communities heavily impacted by the pandemic. Kits included masks, hand sanitizer, soap, and other various supplies along with informational sheets on how to stay safe.

Program managers Madeline Davies and Craig Regis packing COVID-19 readiness kits.
Sample of supplies included in COVID-19 readiness kits.

Cancer Prevention & Control Equity
 Cancer Equity Implementation Projects Begin in Community Health Centers

In 2019, building off the success of the Trefler Cancer Care Equity program, The Kraft Center, in partnership with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Mass League of Community Health Centers, received a 5-year grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to create The Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control Equity (ISCCCE). This statewide center allows for rapid-cycle testing of innovative approaches to cancer prevention and control in settings that serve populations with health disparities. Thirty-one community health centers in Massachusetts are participating in ISCCCE to increase adoption of science-based programs for cancer prevention and control.

Over the coming months, four Massachusetts community health centers will implement a pilot study to improve colorectal cancer screenings paired with screening and mitigation of social determinants of health. ISCCCE has also developed a virtual learning platform called Implementation Learning Community Connections.  This platform will allow community health center teams to access resources, trainings, webinars and connect with each other. Two recent learning community meetings have focused on health equity and implementation science.

September 16, 2020
Folasade May, MD, PhD, Mphil
 Assistant Professor of Medicine, Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases and Director, Melvin and Bren Simon Gastroenterology Quality Improvement Program, UCLA
Community Partnerships to Improve Colorectal Cancer
December 11, 2020
Kelly Aschbrenner, PhD Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College and Senior Scientist in the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System Equitable Implementation: What it is, Why it Matters, and How to Take Action
Welcome New Kraft Center Staff!
The Kraft Center is delighted to welcome staff members who joined in 2020!  First, please welcome Maddie Davies! Maddie is working on the Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control Equity grant as the Implementation Lab (I-Lab) Sr. Program Manager. The I-Lab is working with Mass General and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers on the implementation of cancer prevention pilot programs and capacity building projects in MA community health centers. Maddie graduated from Simmons College and has a Master of Public Health degree from Boston University School of Public Health. In her free time, she loves to travel, try new recipes and explore new hiking trails with her husband and lab-mix, Alfie.

We would also like to welcome Deepinder Singh!  Deepinder is a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Kraft Center for Community Health as well as the Mongan Institute. Deepinder supports the Implementation Team and Methods Unit in the Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control Equity (ISCCCE). He is a graduate of University of Connecticut where he received a BS in Molecular and Cell Biology and hopes to attend medical school in the future.

 
Finally, please join us in welcoming Stephanie Martinez! Stephanie is the Clinical Research Coordinator for The Kraft Center's Implementation Laboratory (I-Lab) within the ISCCCE. She provides support to the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics in Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) team to increase COVID-19 testing among underserved populations. She is an alum of Health Career Connection and graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Science in Health Science, and a minor in Medical Anthropology. 
Kraft Center Hosts Summer Intern from Health Career Connection

The Kraft Center hosted intern from the Health Career Connection program, generously funded by Patti and Jonathan Kraft. Alexis Sarpong is a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts Lowell with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. She is currently in the MPH +1 program at UMass Lowell with a concentration in epidemiology. Outside of school and work, she loves spending time with her family and friends. Alexis spent the summer at the Kraft Center supporting efforts of the Implementation Science Center as well as early childhood development initiatives. We will miss Alexis and wish her the best of luck on her future endeavors!
In Memoriam: Dr. Leah Zallman
In Memoriam: Leah Zallman, MD, MPH - December 10, 1979 - November 5, 2020

We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Leah Zallman, Kraft Center alum, Class of 2015.

"Leah was a colleague and friend to many of us; she was the bright light in every room. She was passionately committed to social justice and a fierce advocate for underserved and, in particular, immigrant populations.
She was a vibrant member of the Kraft Center Community Health Leadership Program who modeled for us how to interweave being a front-line community health center doctor, a nationally recognized scholar, an advocate in words and in action, a dedicated friend and a wonderful mother." - Dr. Derri Shtasel, former Executive Director of the Kraft Center.

Our deepest condolences to Dr. Zallman's family and friends. Her obituary can be found here.
Updates from Kraft Center Alumni
Former participants in The Kraft Fellowship and Practitioner Programs continue to leave their impressive mark on the field of Community Health. Below are highlights of their work, including notable publications, career moves, and other personal news. We encourage all Kraft Center alumni to send us updates by emailing cregis1@mgh.harvard.edu.



Gabriel Wishik, MD, MPH

Ebonie Woolcock, MD, MPH
In July, Ebonie became the interim Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion for Boston University School of Medicine and the Director of the pipeline program Early Medical School Selection Program. Please join us in congratulating Ebonie on this great accomplishment!


Carolina Abuelo, MD
I'm A Doctor, And I'm Losing Patients To A Deadly Side Effect Of The Pandemic. The Huffington Post, May 2020.

We are worried that hospital COVID-19 data no longer goes to the apolitical CDC: Doctors. USA Today, July 2020.

Benjamin Bearnot, MD, MPH
"You're Always Jumping Through Hoops": Journey Mapping the Care Experiences of Individuals With Opioid Use Disorder-associated Endocarditis. Journal of Addiction Medicine, March 2020. Greater Attention Paid to the Patient's Experience Could Improve the Treatment of Individuals With Opioid Use Disorder Hospitalized for Serious Infections. Journal of Addiction Medicine, March, 2020. 

Rejection of Patients With Opioid Use Disorder Referred for Post-acute Medical Care Before and After an Anti-discrimination Settlement in Massachusetts. Journal of Addiction Medicine, July 2020. Accompanying editorial: Disability Discrimination Against People With Substance Use Disorders by Postacute Care Nursing Facilities: It is Time to Stop Tolerating Civil Rights Violations. Journal of Addiction Medicine, July 2020.
WBUR piece covering the work: 29% Of Mass. Nursing Homes Refused Patients Who've Used Opioids, Study Finds. WBUR, July 2020

Sural Shah, MD, MPH
Latest Public Health Threats to Migrants at the US Southern Border. American Journal of Public Health, June 2020.

Conducting Forensic Medical Evaluations for Pediatric Asylum Seekers: A Framework for Pediatric Medical Evaluators. Pediatric Annals. 2020.

Mark Viron, MD
Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic and Individuals With Serious Mental Illness. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, May 2020.
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