Banner image: Photo Credit (Right photo) - Steve Damish, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center
COVID Response
Community Testing and Vaccine Clinics
Since 2020, The Kraft Center has focused on mitigating the effects of COVID-19 and the inequities caused and exacerbated by the pandemic. These efforts have involved working with community health centers to enhance COVID-19 testing capacity as well as mobilizing COVID-19 testing and vaccine efforts in Massachusetts communities impacted hardest by the pandemic. Since January 4, 2021 our mobile program has conducted 3,173 COVID-19 tests and has administered 989 vaccines in Chelsea, Revere, Everett, Lynn, and Boston. Many community members have accessed care twice in our mobile vaccine unit as we have a close to 90% return-to-care rate for the second vaccine dose.
Our pandemic response efforts are supported by 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. Our local project in Massachusetts (RADx-MA) is a collaboration between the Kraft Center for Community Health at Mass General Hospital, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers to support community health centers in expanding COVID-19 testing in underserved communities. The Harvard Chan and Mass League teams provide scientific and administrative leadership and support the development of an ethical and equity framework to guide the program efforts.
Mobilizing COVID services in communities hardest hit by the pandemic has been central to the efforts of the Kraft Center and across Mass General Brigham. We have worked closely with community partners to coordinate and plan locations of services. We are extremely grateful to our community partners for their guidance and collaboration. Their input and support has ensured that community members have equitable access to important care.

To learn more about our mobile programming as part of Mass General Brigham's health equity initiatives more broadly, see the video below (up through 2:43). Our upcoming COVID vaccination clinics in Greater Boston are also posted below the video link.
From November 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021, partnering RADx-MA community health centers administered 84,751 tests. Below are examples of testing strategies the health centers used over this time period:
Brockton Community Health Center used rapid tests for symptomatic patients in their COVID clinic and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) for asymptomatic patients in their outside trailer, with a special pediatric site for children and families using PCR.
Caring Health Center launched an offsite mobile testing van that offered rapid and PCR tests while continuing on-site testing with rapid and PCR.
DotHouse Health Center had an onsite model that allowed patients to walk up during testing hours without an appointment and get a ticket with a time to return for testing.
Family Health Center of Worcester had an onsite trailer-based testing strategy using rapid and PCR and had a contract with Worcester Public Schools to provide testing for referred teachers and families.
Lynn Community Health Center provided PCR tests at their testing trailer; symptomatic patients were offered rapid tests through Urgent Care and co-tested by PCR; testing at homeless shelter partners and mobile testing was offered to community partners using rapid and PCR testing.
RADx-UP Rapid Research Pilot Grant
In June, The Kraft Center's COVID response team, led by Dr. Priya Sarin Gupta, received a Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics in Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) Coordination and Data Collection Center (CDCC) Community Collaboration Pilot Grant to supplement our ongoing work to expand access to COVID services for populations most impacted by the pandemic. This year-long $336,000 grant will work with community partners in Revere to provide testing to individuals experiencing homelessness with enhanced outreach and point of care testing.
Aetna Funding to Support Ongoing Mobile Health Equity Efforts
This spring, The Kraft Center and the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) received a grant 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. This funding will allow us to provide mobile health services to vulnerable populations in Greater Boston, ranging from COVID services to chronic disease care to treatment for substance use disorder. MGH CCHI will also launch a youth ambassador program to train local youth on mobile health and its role in promoting health equity in our communities.
Dr. Priya Sarin Gupta named Medical Director - Mobile Health Services & Specialty Programs
The Kraft Center has named Priya Sarin Gupta, MD, MPH as Medical Director of Mobile Health & Specialty Services. Since January, Dr. Gupta has led The Kraft Center's mobile testing and vaccinations. In this new position, Dr. Gupta will build upon The Center's implementation of mobile COVID services supported by RADx and CVS/Aetna grants as well as develop and implement other special projects focused on expanding health care access and equity. Dr. Gupta is a family physician at Massachusetts General Hospital's Charlestown Health Center. She attended Albany Medical College and has been in practice 9 years. She specializes in adolescent medicine. Welcome, Dr. Gupta!
Community Care in Reach® Mobile Addiction Services
Photo credit: Steve Damish, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center
The Community Care in Reach® program is growing! On April 30, 2021, Brockton Neighborhood Health Center launched their mobile addiction unit that is set to bring harm reduction services and clinical care to people living with addiction in Brockton. Brockton's mobile unit is the second of four Community Care in Reach affiliates expected to be on the road by the end of the summer. Tapestry in Springfield and UMass Memorial Medical Center, both funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, will be launching their mobile programs later this summer with mobile vans generously donated by The Robert K. Kraft Family. For a brief video from April's launch event, see below.
The Center also partnered with RIZE Massachusetts Foundation to host a webinar on May 17 entitled “Innovations in Addiction Treatment and Harm Reduction.” A video of the event is below. The event featured presentations by Monique Tula from the National Harm Reduction Coalition and by MA Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, as well as a panel of experts including:
  • Dr. Kavita Babu from UMass Memorial Medical Center
  • Rigoberto Quinones from Brockton Neighborhood Health Center
  • Dr. Alexander Walley from Boston Medical Center
  • Liz Whynott from Tapestry
  • Josh Kraft, President of Kraft Family Philanthropies (facilitator)
The Boston CCIR program was back at full capacity in 2021 serving people with addiction in the Boston. The team also continues their evening youth and young adult oriented session with support from The Hearst Foundation. From January 2018 through March 31 of this year, the van team:
  • Made 15,386 contacts with people who inject drugs,
  • Distributed 4,585 overdose reversing naloxone kits
  • Had 2,113 patient encounters on the van
  • Provided 1,246 prescriptions for medication for addiction treatment.

A huge thank you to our partners at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Boston Public Health Commission's AHOPE program, and The GE Foundation for their work making this program possible and serving as a model for mobile addiction programs across MA.
Dr. Taveras named Chief Community Health Equity Officer for Mass General Brigham
Kraft Center Executive Director, Elsie M. Taveras, MD, MPH, has been 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 is the perfect choice for this newly created role as she has extensive experience implementing evidence-based programs in both clinical and community settings,” said Tom Sequist, MD, MPH, Mass General Brigham Chief Patient Experience and Equity Officer. “There is tremendous work already underway across Mass General Brigham and by harnessing this collective strength under Dr. Taveras’ leadership we will accelerate our progress, making a difference in the lives of our patients and the communities we serve across the region and beyond.” 

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.

Cancer Care Equity
The Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control Equity (ISCCCE) continues to launch innovative strategies to reduce disparities in cancer care. The Implementation Laboratory led by Dr. Gina Kruse and Kraft Center program manager, Maddie Davies (pictured left to right, respectively), together with four Massachusetts community health centers are working to improve colorectal cancer screenings by pairing cancer screening with screening and mitigation of social determinants of health, overcoming challenges presented by the COVID pandemic. A recent learning community hosted by ISCCCE focused on social risk-informed care and the impact the pandemic continues to have on cancer prevention. More details are below.
March 30, 2021 Implementation Learning Community keynote speaker:
Laura Gottlieb, MD, MPH
Director, Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network; Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco

Presentation Title:
Integrating Social Care into Health Care Delivery and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, & Medicine Framework

To learn more, a video of Dr. Gottlieb's presentation is available to view here.

On July 1st, ISCCCE hosted another Learning Community meeting that featured a panel of community health center stakeholders currently implementing the paired screening intervention. ISCCCE recently released a request for applications (RFA) for new pilots to support junior investigators through our Center’s enhanced infrastructure. Funded projects will be announced in early fall. For more information on the RFA, click here.
HUGS/Abrazos Emergency COVID Relief Program
We are thrilled to announce that the HUGS/Abrazos Emergency COVID Relief Program has been extended through the end of 2021 with support from The Boston Foundation! We hope to reach over 475 families who need emergency relief and support. We are now working on ways to sustain the program beyond that period, with the plan to create a toolkit for future program use and development. For more information on HUGS/Abrazos, please read our paper in Frontiers in Public Health: Fostering Resilience in Pregnancy an Early Childhood During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The HUGS/Abrazos Program Design and Implementation

Some program statistics to date:

  • 311 individual families referred to the HUGS program for services
  • 251 patients have completed at least one touchpoint with a community health worker or social worker
  • All patients have received support and a care kit that includes masks, hand sanitizers, and age-appropriate activities for children
Dr. Taveras Receives Recognition from Boston Mayor Kim Janey
In May 2021, Kraft Center Executive Director, Dr. Elsie Taveras, received a certificate of recognition from Boston Mayor Kim Janey for her work in public health in the city.

The award reads: "In honor of your dedication, passion, and commitment to serving the families and communities of the City of Boston through your work and leadership on Public Health, and in appreciation of your tireless advocacy in improving the quality of life and healthcare in vulnerable communities, on behalf of the City of Boston best wishes and success in all your future endeavors."

Congratulations, Dr. Taveras, on this great honor!
Staffing Updates
Eddie Taborda is a Senior Clinical Research Coordinator for the Kraft Center’s Implementation Laboratory within the Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control Equity. He is also the operations manager for RADx-MA and is a COVID-19 vaccine coordinator for Mass General Brigham's mobile vaccine operations. Prior to joining the Kraft Center, he worked as an Exercise Physiologist at Northeastern University and he served as a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He graduated from Northeastern University with an MS in Exercise Science. 
Nafissa Johnson is Clinical Research Coordinator for The Kraft Center for Community Health as well as the Division of General Academic Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. Nafissa is a graduate from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University where she received a master’s in Public Health. Nafissa is passionate about community health and infectious diseases related to water, sanitation and hygiene practices, and hopes to attend medical school in the future.
Miriam Lautenschlager is a Nurse Practitioner with The Kraft Center for Community Health. Miriam supports in the field community health improvement efforts working with the RADx-MA team. Miriam graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Saint Anselm College and with her Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN – FNP) from Simmons University. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP).
Elizabeth Do is a Health Career Connection intern and works across two projects at the Kraft Center. She is supporting technical assistance and evaluation efforts of the Mobile Addiction Services programs including creating and updating existing mobile health resources. She also assists with the Connect for Health program at MGH. Elizabeth received her BA in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Amherst College. Her goal is to attend medical school in the future and go into either primary or emergency care. 
Segovia Lucas is an intern at The Kraft Center this summer through Dana Farber's CURE Internship Program while she is also a student at Tufts University pursuing an Interdisciplinary Studies degree with concentrations in Spanish, Community Health, and Biology. Segovia is passionate about patient advocacy for vulnerable groups, health disparities in communities of color, and how language barriers can affect health outcomes, especially in the Latino community. Her ultimate goal is to attend medical school to obtain her MD/MPH and practice as a physician.