Department Spotlight: Medication for Addiction Treatment
Department Spotlight: Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT)
September is National Recovery Month, a month dedicated to bringing awareness to treatment options for substance use and behavioral health disorders, and the difference these treatments can make in the lives of those with these disorders. At Kennedy Community Health, we have a comprehensive and dedicated Medication for Addiction Treatment team that ensures our patients are able to access the tools they need for recovery, including medication, and are engaged in feasible recovery goals tailored to their journey.
Meet the Team!
You will find MAT on the third floor of 19 Tacoma Street in Worcester. The team is made up of Zoey Memmert-Miller, Lead RN, Elyssa Williams, RN, Kat Mendez, RN, Alicia Cooksey, Lead MAT Provider, June Schwartz, Medical Assistant, Dani Rose, CHW, Brandalee Nimtz, Recovery Coach, Dr. Richard Waters, Behavioral Health Provider, Tatiana Martins, Behavioral Health Provider, and Daniel Benavides Vega, Program Coordinator.
Who Does MAT Serve?
They are currently working to outreach historically underserved populations, including those who are homeless or unstably housed, the LGBTQ+ community, individuals who are coming out of or in transition from incarceration, and people facing complex medical conditions. They are also serving the needs of individuals with stimulants use disorders in their enhanced services as Office-Based Addiction Treatment (OBAT). This will translate into a closer, more frequent follow-up from the nursing team, medical providers, behavioral health providers, and our recently hired Recovery Coach.
How Does MAT Help People Live Healthier Lives?
The Kennedy Community Health MAT program works hard to advance our mission to help people live healthier lives by learning and adapting to new care methods. They follow Boston Medical Center’s OBAT model, so our program relies on nurse managers to deliver quality treatment. The team treats substance use disorder as a chronic condition, like hypertension or diabetes, and provides on-going treatment and support on the patient’s journey. As a multidisciplinary team, they treat each patient holistically, including those with dual diagnoses and connect patients with behavioral health services. Many of the team members are bilingual and speak Spanish and French, and are able to work with their patients in their preferred languages.
A fun fact about the team is that 50% of the members were born under the zodiac sign of Taurus. For those who aren’t familiar with these signs, a Taurus is known for being reliable, patient, devoted, and responsible! The team is also filled with big soccer fans and their office is always fully stocked with candy; be sure to stop by the office and say hello!
Department Spotlight: Health Benefit Advisors
Department Spotlight: Health Benefit Advisors/Navigators
“Health insurance is essential for financial planning as it protects the health and well-being of an individual by safeguarding them against high and unexpected health care costs. It allows them to have continuity of care, which contributes to healthier lives,” Ivelisse Delgado, Manager of Registration and Health Insurance Counseling.
What do Health Benefit Advisors/Navigators Do?
Kennedy Community Health’s team of Health Benefits Advisors/Navigators are critical to ensuring equitable access to needed health care services. They achieve this by providing insurance enrollment assistance and renewals, answering complicated insurance questions, and by identifying families that may be un- or under-insured or who may be at risk of losing their health insurance and providing them information about the assistance available to them. Because of the scope of their responsibilities, and the need in the communities we serve, team members can be found at all three sites, working remotely, or attending community events and fairs. A fun fact about the team is that every member is either bilingual or trilingual, which makes outreach at various community sites more impactful.
Meet the Team!
The team is led by Ivelisse Delgado and Jeniffer Alves, both based in Worcester, alongside Dioneris Izquierdo, Isabel Carmona Messa, and Alicia Andrade. In Framingham, the team includes Heloisa Fontes and Amarilis Burgos, and in Milford, you will find Stuardo Urizandi. Our two fully remote team members are Idalia Rodriguez and Julia Figueroa.
More Than Insurance
As a certified Navigator site, all of our health benefits advisors are also certified Navigators, who provide education and enrollment opportunities for patients and community residents who lack healthcare and health insurance access. In addition, the team also provides application and follow-up assistance for enrolled individuals, helps submit premium payments, updates their case files to keep them enrolled, submits verifications, and so much more. The team also receives referrals from the front desk staff, the referrals team, CHWs, providers, and nurses, who reach out to the team when they identify any patients with insurance concerns or lapses in coverage.
As if that wasn’t enough, the team also has a significant initiative underway to provide support to community members accessing the MetroWest Free Medical Program, which provides care to uninsured and underinsured patients in the MetroWest area, to ensure they are aware of and enrolled in insurance plans for which they are eligible. The team is also available at community events, health fairs, and other community locations to better reach underserved populations.
Department Spotlight: Community Health Workers
Department Spotlight: Tacoma Community Health Workers (CHWs)
Our dedicated team of Community Health Workers (CHWs) are here to help guide and assist patients in navigating the often times confusing health care system. The Tacoma CHW team provides a wide range of services including assisting in scheduling medical appointments, medical education, help with social determinants of health, refugee support, transportation, and so much more!
The Tacoma CHW team comprises many dedicated staff who have been part of the Kennedy Community Health family for years; many of them are part of the “25+ year’s club,” and some have been here for 35 years! Many of our CHWs have left and come back home to our health center with more skills and knowledge to better serve our community. Team members include CHWs, Lizette Perez, Sousn Imam and Robert Arce; C3 CHWs, Monica Salazar and Evette Soto; program-specific CHWs, Sarah Bertrand, Blood Pressure (BP) Control Program, Saedi De La Rosa, BH/BHI, and Claire Powell, CCM Program, Evelyn Rivas and Lissette Melendez, Ryan White program, and Heather (Dani) Rose, MAT. The team is led by CHW Supervisor, Leopoldo Negrón Cruz.
What is a CHW?
A lot falls under the umbrella of responsibilities for our CHWs; they are responsible for assisting with connection, navigation, and coordination of services for short- and medium-term patient needs. They conduct assessments for social determinants of health to identify unmet needs and develop a plan to provide assistance and support. Some examples of these needs include food insecurity, for which CHWs provide referrals to Project Bread for SNAP and HIP benefits or provide on-the-spot assistance in the form of grocery store gift cards, and housing insecurity, for which our CHWs assist them with housing applications, referrals for rentals and evictions, including referrals for legal assistance. In the last two years, CHWs have distributed approximately 275 food vouchers in addition to numerous referrals to food pantries and grocery delivery programs to help patients access healthy foods in their community.
What do CHWs Do?
The team participates in population-based projects to ensure access to care and adherence to treatment protocols. They work with parents to educate them on the importance of Well Child Visits and conducting direct outreach if they miss a visit. They also provide specialized services and education to specific groups such as OB patients, prenatal and postpartum care. The CHWs also work with special populations, like refugees who are resettling in the Worcester area, and provide education on the US healthcare system and other health education topics including when to call 911, use the emergency room, prepare for medical appointments, etc.
Over the past year, the CHWs have played a large role in the COVID-19 response at Kennedy Community Health. The team has been working to contact patients to schedule COVID-19 vaccines at the health center or provide information for other vaccine sites in the community, arranging transportation for patients to get to and from vaccine sites and providing education to help overcome vaccine hesitancy and dispel vaccine myths that have been far too pervasive in the community.
CHWs always have and will continue to play a central role in the care delivery system here at Kennedy Community health and we are endlessly grateful for their dedication and commitment to our patients. Thank you, Tacoma CHWs, for all that you do!