Administrative Office
519-525 West Street
Camden, NJ 08103
(856) 541-6092
Fax (856) 541-6097
West Street Health Center
519-525 West Street
Camden, NJ 08103
(856) 968-2320
Fax (856) 968-2317
In April 2013, President Obama signed a proclamation recognizing May as National Mental Health Awareness month.  Since 2013 Project H.O.P.E. has expanded beyond primary and preventive care to provide our patients with a broad range of services to address mental health, substance use disorder, and other behavioral health issues. Project H.O.P.E. has been busy; patient visits for behavioral health services, including mental health and substance use disorder services have more than doubled. We’ve worked hard to more fully integrate primary and behavioral health services to ensure coordinated care and seamless transitions for all our patients, including those with opioid use disorder. Integrated care with the goal of treating the whole person is the cornerstone of our mission.

At our West Street Health Center and satellite locations, we continue to strive to give the upmost care to vulnerable populations in the Camden City region. Thank you for taking the time to read about our work and the dedication of our team members.

Wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy Spring!

Patricia DeShields MSW, LSW, RN
Project H.O.P.E (Camden's Healthcare for the Homeless)
Mental Health Awareness Month
The purpose of Mental Health Month is to increase understanding, provide support, and eliminate stigmas surrounding mental health disorders. Approximately one in five adults cope with mental illness in the United States a year. Those that contend with chronic ailments such as diabetes and high blood pressure have a higher chance of receiving a diagnosis of depression  or  anxiety . This is especially important due to the prevalence of these conditions in our patient population. Therefore, Project H.O.P.E. recognizes that it is crucial to care care for both patients' mental and physical health and to form partnerships with the community and other organizations.
Community Mental Health Center
Project H.O.P.E is a provisionally licensed Community Mental Health Center (CMHC). This distinction allows us to provide a comprehensive range of patient centered mental health and substance use disorder services, group therapy, and psycho-education programs. 

Our Behavioral Health Nurse Practitioner, Bolanle Idowu-Akangbe has been involved in the CMHC since October, she and answered the following questions:

What are the common psych disorders you encounter, and what are barriers to care?

The most common mental health disorders I encounter are Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Depression, Anxiety, Adjustment disorder. Many patients have more than one disorder at the same time. Barriers to care include transportation issues, language barrier, and lack of insurance. At Project H.O.P.E., we strive to reduce barriers to care by linking patients to resources and providing care in a patient's native language.

How do you balance giving good care while following the regulations of the Community Health License? 

I balance giving good care while following the regulations of the CMHL by keeping abreast of the policies at Project HOPE, being mindful of the state regulations for Advanced Practice Nurses, staying up-to-date with best practices, following the medical oath of “do no harm”, tailoring each patient’s care to their needs, forming partnerships, and empowering each patient.

What is the most rewarding about your job? 

What I find the most rewarding part of my job is working alongside individuals who share similar goals in caring for our patients and are passionate about what they do.
Project H.O.P.E. in the News
The third week of May is designated as the National Prevention Week by one of our federal funders, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA). The Week focuses on substance use prevention and positive mental health. In recognition of this, we thought we would take the time to highlight our recent work.
Battling the Opioid Epidemic with Senator Menendez
In April, Patricia DeShields, CEO and Dr. Lynda Bascelli joined Senator Menendez at the Camden Waterfront with Port of Philadelphia in view. The Port is a major point of reception for fentanyl, which is a synthetic opiate that is 50 times more powerful than heroin. Senator Menendez announced a bipartisan bill, The Fentanyl Sanctions Act, to implement sanctions against China, which is the world's top supplier. Illegal trafficking of fentanyl has fueled the opioid epidemic, causing a significant increase in overdose and death.

Unfortunately we have seen the effects of the epidemic on our patients. To read our CEO's remarks and view video coverage, please click here.
Press Conference at Camden County Correctional Facility
In February Project H.O.P.E. participated in a press conference held at Camden County Correctional Facility. Our Chief Medical Officer, Lynda Bascelli MD, spoke about the success of our partnership with the Facility and the positive impact that medicated assisted treatment (MAT) has had. Further, patient Jose Lager remarked on how MAT, specifically Vivitrol, has had on recovery. Jose has been clean for over 6 months, and he receives treatment at our West Street Health Center. Thinking he would always be an addict, Jose is amazed that his cravings are gone. Mr. Lager advised the following: “With fentanyl, it’s not drugs out there no more — it’s death. Before you go back out there, sign up for the Vivitrol shot.” Along with behavioral therapy, MAT in the form of buprenorphine (Suboxone) and naltrexone (Vivitrol) greatly improves outcomes for patients battling substance abuse disorders. We are one of only twelve programs in the nation that offers MAT in this form to the prison population. To learn more about our MAT program and to view video coverage please click here .
New Business Hours Reminder!
New Business Hours, Including Saturdays!
Project H.O.P.E. is constantly keeping the needs of our unique population in mind. Therefore, we have extended our business hours! We are now open Monday and Wednesday evenings until 7:00 p.m. Also, we are now open on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Rutgers and West Chester Students
West Chester University Intern
For the past year, we have had the privilege of having Kai McDonald as a social work intern from West Chester. As a part of Kai's last year of graduate school, Kai interned to obtain field experience. While here, Kai gained skills on working with those who are affected by substance abuse. Kai stated that being able to identify personal strengths and improving on shortcomings was one the most beneficial aspects of interning with us. Overall, Kai affirmed the following: "I learned how things operate in social work, to take detailed notes, and to be a team player. Being a social worker is about my values, and that can be applied to anyone I am working with." We look forward to welcoming two more West Chester interns in the Fall.
Rutgers Blackwood Nursing Students
Project H.O.P.E. had the pleasure of being the clinical rotation site for Rutgers Blackwood nursing students. Each rotation was 3 weeks long, and students were able to learn under a community health lens. Specifically, students encountered those with mental health or substance abuse disorders. P rofessors were impressed that students were able to give hands-on care to patients and sit in on group therapy sessions. This allowed for growth in their nursing skills and insight on challenges our community members face. One student expressed the following: "The staff cares for the patients in a unique way. They aren’t there to judge people for using drugs or not having a place to live. The nurse practitioners were incredibly smart and had the best patient care skills of any practitioner that I have witnessed. Project H.O.P.E. reminded me why nursing is so important to me in the first place." We sincerely enjoyed having these students and look forward to working with Rutgers in the future.
Employee Development
At Project H.O.P.E., we know that employee development is a key part of serving our patient population. Recently our staff have been to conferences, and have been featured in Philly Magazine. We've also continued to grow and have added new staff.

West Chester Symposium

As part of the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training grant, staff members attended a symposium at West Chester University. The Symposium promoted interprofessional collaboration as a best practice in improving access to healthcare for medically underserved populations. This approach is one of the most impactful ways in decreasing disparities. Staff gained knowledge and interacted with other professionals on various subjects such as co-occurrence of mental health disorders, effects of substance use disorders on health outcomes, and the impact of trauma on adult health.

Nurse Practitioner Featured in Philly Magazine

Our APN Susanne Johnson being featured in the Be Well Philly section of Philly Magazine corresponds with May as Mental Health Month. She details how diet culture and struggling with body image negatively impacted her mental health. Susanne found her stride in weightlifting, showing that athleticism comes in all sizes. A strong advocate of Health at Every Size (HAES), Susanne provides unbiased medical care. She does not allow her or a patient's size to be a determinate of health. To read more, please click here.

New Staff

Project H.O.P.E. has welcomed several new staff members! As for our clinical team, we have added a new physician Stephanie Santoro, who specializes in Internal Medicine and Medication Assisted Treatment. We also have two new medical assistants Shantique McMillian and Kawanda Morton, and a new reception clerk Sujaily Rosa. Project H.O.P.E also welcomes Luther Mercado to our Security Team.
Nurses Week
May 6th through 11th was National Nurses Week. Our nurses are essential in patient care and keeping Project H.O.P.E. running smoothly. To recognize all of dedication and compassionate care our nursing staff provide at our health center, each nurse received a card and a tea set as a gift. We would like to specially thank Kevin Emmons, Bolanle Idowu-Akangbe,Dorcas Hagerty, Grant Jenkins, Susanne Johnson, Susan Jones, Ruth Lightson, Niema Payton, and Daniel Stringer!