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
As we approach a time to be thankful and reflect, we wanted to share a few special stories with you that highlight our work here at Project H.O.P.E. Our Health Center is proud to be on the front lines of providing healthcare services to the Camden community, with a special focus to the homeless and underserved.

We are so grateful for the opportunity to continue our mission improving the health of our patients and community. We appreciate your support and any monetary gift you can give to contribute to this special cause.  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 Thanksgiving.

Patricia DeShields MSW, LSW, RN
Project H.O.P.E (Camden's Healthcare for the Homeless)
Project H.O.P.E. November 2018 Newsletter
Diabetes-Self Management Education Classes Provide Essential Tools
As an ambulatory care center and a primary healthcare provider, Project H.O.P.E. treats chronic conditions among our patient population, such as Diabetes. Often patients who are low income or homeless do not have the resources or tools to manage this disease.

Traditionally, patients who had diabetes would receive basic education and a prescription for medication, but would not return to Project H.O.P.E. for several months. In order to allow patients to learn self-management tools, Project H.O.P.E. started the Diabetes Self-Management program The Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) classes allow patients to better control their blood glucose, reduce the risks of side-effects of the disease when it goes unmanaged, and ensure diabetics have a more comfortable, satisfying life.

In the Fall of 2016, Project H.O.P.E. held its first weekly DSME classes. The classes are held in a four-week series and repeats monthly. In order to provide team-based care, a variety of Project H.O.P.E. staff oversee the program. Staff nurse, Sharon Forney, RN, conducts the weekly classes, assisted by Danielle Orlando, our Community Health Worker. Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator, Fran Grabrowski helps guide Sharon in teaching the classes. Once a month one of Project H.O.P.E.’s medical providers attends the class and holds a group visit with the patients. The medical providers also refer new patients to the program so they can receive this critical education.

Patients have responded favorably to the classes. They enjoy the interaction with the staff, as well as their peers. Conversation Maps is the curriculum used to walk class members through various topics as they learn self-management. Several patients continue to come month after month because of the positive impact the tools and resources have on their life. Some patients who have had Diabetes for years are finally able to begin to manage the disease. New patients are not so overwhelmed with the diagnosis when they learn about the support and resources available to them. Not only do patients who attend class have better lab results, but they feel better, have increased energy, and are motivated to continue to focus on their health.

Say hello to Ms. Tanya Mendoza!
Project H.O.P.E. Front Desk Receptionist 
We would like to recognize Tanya for her marvelous work as a Medical Receptionist at Project H.O.P.E. Tanya is constantly praised for her dedication and commitment by fellow team members and patients. Over the past 3 years, Tanya has managed the front desk reception area. Tanya is a staff member who experiences a constant flow of patients. She must work rapidly to check patients in and keep their visit moving along.

Not only does Tanya interact with the patients in a pleasant and professional manner, but also treats her fellow team members with the same respect and enthusiasm. She assists many employees in the office by adjusting and juggling various schedules to ensure team members can provide services for our patients. Though it can be a challenge, Tanya’s response is always “We’ll make it happen.”

With the opportunity to see patients over the duration of their treatment at Project H.O.P.E, Tanya values seeing an improvement in their mental and physical well-being. When Tanya was asked what she enjoys the most about working at Project H.O.P.E. she replied, “Working for Project H.O.P.E is a wild experience for me. After seeing a patient at the worst point in their life, months, sometimes years can go by, and ultimately, you see the change and growth within them. Their smile is what keeps me moving to the next patient indeed.”  

Meet Project H.O.P.E. LCSW, James Comstock

James has been a part of the Project H.O.P.E. family for the past 11 years. At Project H.O.P.E., he has been an important member of the behavioral health department. James is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and provides therapeutic counseling to patients struggling with mental health and substance use issues. James is a true part of this community and actively helps his neighbors. He is a Camden resident and an expert on helping people connect to necessary community resources. As a result, people typically describe James as “the person who could get difficult things done efficiently.”

Prior to coming to Project H.O.P.E., James worked for the NJ Department of Corrections as a prison social worker for 25 years. He has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Rutgers University. He is certified in domestic violence response, suicide awareness, and school social work

In addition to providing counseling and case management to patients, James supervises social work interns, trains other staff on workplace safety, facilitates family and social inclusion groups, and coordinates services with the Camden County Jail. He also serves as an inspiration and support to his colleagues whether offering clinical expertise or just a kind word of encouragement.

In his free time, James is a member of the vestry at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Camden and volunteers with the Adolescent Curfew program and the NJ Tree Foundation. He also camps and hikes to stay physically active. We appreciate all of James’ dedication to the patient he serves at Project H.O.P.E. He is a valuable member of our team.
Lanning Square Neighborhood Opioid Forum
On August 20, 2018, Project HOPE hosted an Opioid Forum to provide education, awareness, and advocacy on this crucial topic. The event was well attended by community members from the local neighborhood, patients and staff members. Grant Jenkins, Family Nurse Practitioner and Addiction Medicine Specialist led an impassioned discussion about the effects of opioids on both individuals and the community.

Pictured above is Project H.O.P.E. Family Nurse Practitioner, Grant Jenkins.

A delicious meal was catered by Camden’s Cathedral Kitchen.

Narcan was provided along with education and training on how to administer the drug and recognize the signs of opioid overdose.

The event was sponsored by the CVS Foundation and the National Association of Community Health Centers.
Touch Therapy Tuesdays at Project H.O.P.E.
Tuesday mornings are a very special time at Project H.O.P.E.! It is a time when Fiona arrives to provide patients a touch therapy massage.

Fiona Hesketh is licensed massage therapist (LMT) and Board Certified Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCTMB), as well as a Reiki master. Ten years ago, she began to volunteer her time to show care and compassion to the patients of Project H.O.P.E. She went to massage school because she witnessed first-hand the effect that touch has on people.

The patients who come in for care at Project H.O.P.E. often carry back packs and bags of belongings due to homelessness. During the cold weather, our patients arrive with multiple layers of clothes in attempt to keep warm. Not only do the patients arrive at Project H.O.P.E. with physical burdens, they bear mental and emotional health issues as well. Many of our patients have suffered devastating trauma in their lives, leaving them feeling hopeless.

Normally when patients arrive at Project H.O.P.E., they have a scowling look, tearful expression, or just a blank stare.

When the patient follows Fiona into the room, he or she is often bent over. This may be the result of the physical load they carry or the emotional weight they bear. Fiona gently asks a few questions as the patient gets situated in the chair, resting their head and relaxing their limbs. After 15 minutes of receiving Fiona’s skilled, compassionate touch, the patient stands straight and tall, without the appearance of carrying a burden. And, most importantly they are smiling!

The patient may exit the building and return to a harsh, difficult life, but for those moments they experienced the gift of her healing touch. Whether the effects last for a few hours, or a few days, Fiona’s work is time well spent! Over time, with repeated visits to the Health Center and for massage with Fiona, the effects become more permanent and lasting. At Project H.O.P.E., we are proud to have hired Fiona as a contracted employee to ensure her services are available to the patients we serve for the long-term. We are thankful for team members like Fiona that offer their talent to improve patient lives. 

Project H.O.P.E. Leads Community in Addressing Opioid Crisis
As the opioid epidemic ravages the country, small cities also struggle to address the crisis daily. Camden City, New Jersey has experienced the crisis first hand, but also juggles to address high rates of poverty and crime. Our community has witnessed lives ruined by addiction and overdoses. At Project H.O.P.E., we are working to change that.

Fortunately, Community Health Centers are in a unique place to support the efforts to combat this deadly epidemic. As Camden’s elite Federally Qualified Health Center, we recognized that being on the front lines of community health care made us well-equipped to offer effective treatment that patients often could not access otherwise. In 2013, Project H.O.P.E. was one of the first FQHCs in New Jersey to offer Medication Assisted Treatment (also known as MAT) in the form of buprenorphine (Suboxone) and naltrexone (Vivitrol). These life-saving medications were previously difficult and expensive for people in the community to access and often out of reach for the most vulnerable individuals.

Over the past 5 years, we have served 1000 patients with MAT. During this time, we have learned many lessons and developed valuable expertise. When Cooper Hospital’s Urban Health Institute made the decision to join this crucial endeavor, we collaborated with the Hospital to share resources and to help support more agencies get involved. As a result, we formed a monthly “Suboxone Breakfast” for agencies who provide MAT meet regularly to share the lessons learned and resources as well as support new prescribers who want to get started. The meeting has grown to include two additional FQHCs, CAMcare Health Corporation and CompleteCare Health Network, Cooper Hospital’s Infectious Disease program, several Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPS) and Camden County’s Department of Addiction Services.

The monthly meetings give clinicians the chance to meet regularly face to face to share patient success stories and discuss medication issues. During the meetings, clinicians also develop plans for fighting barriers to care such as insurance prior-authorizations that block access to medications, exchange paperwork, and forms. In addition, the cohort of diverse stakeholders provide support to one another.

Project H.O.P.E. is proud to have hosted the Suboxone Breakfast on the first Friday of every month for the past year. We look forward to continuing this important work because we know it has had a tremendous impact in bringing various agencies together who are working to rebuild our community. 
Project H.O.P.E. Offers Addiction Treatment for Offenders Leaving the Correctional System
Under the auspices of the Camden County Reentry Committee, Project H.O.P.E. has partnered with the Camden County Correctional Facility (CCCF) to provide treatment for opioid and alcohol dependence for individuals returning to the community. Without access to immediate treatment, these individuals are at particularly high risk of relapse and overdose when they are released from the county facility.

As part of the program, potential candidates for injectable naltrexone (a medication used to treat alcohol and opioid dependence) are screened and identified by staff at CCCF. Prior to the individual’s release, the social worker at Project H.O.P.E. is contacted by a Lieutenant from the CCCF and a same day appointment is given to them.  

Upon their arrival at Project H.O.P.E., the patient undergoes an assessment. The assessment is conducted by one of our social workers and includes a psychosocial evaluation as well as a drug history. This information is reviewed by one of our medical providers who meets with the patient for final review to determine the appropriateness of treatment. If deemed eligible and appropriate for treatment with naltrexone, the medication is administered on the same day of their visit.

By linking former offenders to Project H.O.P.E., these individuals have a greater chance of success to remain abstinent because they not only receive ongoing medical treatment, but also substance abuse counseling.

Project H.O.P.E. plans to engage as many eligible individuals as possible to immediately access treatment upon release. To this end, Project H.O.P.E. is excited to launch a new program that will offer education sessions via video conferencing to incarcerated individuals. During the teleconferences, Project H.O.P.E. team members answer questions about treatment for addiction, including Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). We believe our treatment programs are making a true difference in the community by giving people the support they need and saving lives in the process.