Posts from the ‘community’ category

Helping Expand Access to Complex Care in Underserved Communities

Elizabeth Buzney demonstrates how phototherapy is performed at the BWH Phototherapy Center.

After topical treatments failed to heal a patient with a rare form of skin cancer, family physician John Mohs, MD, carefully evaluated the patient’s next steps.

Mohs practices at Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., a rural hospital operated by the U.S. Indian Health Services (IHS), which provides health care for American Indians living on or near their native homeland. Patients in this remote region of Navajo Nation are at higher risk for many diseases, yet specialty care is scarce. Northern Navajo Medical Center serves approximately 30 inpatients per day and approximately 600 outpatients per day, according to the IHS.

Diagnosed with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma – a form of lymphoma that affects the skin – Mohs’ patient was a good candidate for phototherapy, which exposes targeted areas of the body to ultraviolet light to reduce skin inflammation. Also known as light therapy, phototherapy has been proven to be safe, effective and affordable in treating a number of inflammatory skin conditions. 

For Mohs and his patient, the challenge was access. Until recently, Mohs had neither the training nor equipment to provide phototherapy at his small dermatology clinic in Shiprock. The nearest phototherapy center was about 200 miles away, and his patient would need to go there three days per week for several months. The combination of barriers made it infeasible for the patient to obtain the specialized care he needed. 

Ironically, the solution to their problem would be found more than 2,000 miles away – in the BWH Department of Dermatology. 

Thanks to a clinical collaboration between BWH faculty volunteers and IHS clinicians through the Brigham and Women’s Outreach Program, Mohs developed and launched a phototherapy service for his patients in Shiprock based on guidance he received from BWH experts in the field.  

He worked closely with Elizabeth Buzney, MD, director of the BWH Phototherapy Center, and Margaret Cavanaugh-Hussey, MD, MPH, director of Public Health and Community Outreach Programs in BWH Dermatology, who Mohs said both played a significant role in helping him get this new clinical service off the ground.

“I probably would not be using phototherapy without the guidance and assistance they provided. Dr. Buzney willingly shared many resources so that I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Mohs said. “Thanks to all of this support, my patient was treated right at Northern Navajo Medical Center and is now in remission.” 

Buzney was delighted she could help to expand access to this treatment – a cause she says is close to her heart.

“I felt like I did something that was so small – I shared resources and knowledge I already had – and Dr. Mohs has since been able to care for so many people as a result,” Buzney said. “As physicians, we typically treat patients one-to-one. To play a part in assisting many patients who are so far away is immensely gratifying.” 

A Helping Hand

From left: Toby Crooks, Margaret Cavanaugh-Hussey and John Mohs

The project represents one of many collaborations established over the years between IHS clinicians and BWH faculty volunteers through the Outreach Program. Building on their latest momentum in phototherapy, Mohs and his physician assistant colleague, Toby Crooks, PA-C, visited the outpatient Dermatology clinic at 221 Longwood Ave. last month for a weeklong shadowing opportunity to observe and learn from BWH clinicians in action.

Mohs and Crooks were assigned to various specialty clinics, ranging from advanced wound care to cutaneous lymphoma – an experience that enabled them to broaden their dermatologic knowledge and strengthen relationships with experts in the field, said Cavanaugh-Hussey. In return, she added, BWH faculty had the chance to learn firsthand about the important work their IHS colleagues are doing in Shiprock. 

“The BWH Outreach Program is a model for how forming meaningful relationships with primary care providers in underserved communities can dramatically increase access to high-quality specialty care,” said Cavanaugh-Hussey. “This is particularly important in dermatology, where access to care is limited in many areas of the country.”

While the Outreach Program may be best known for sending BWH faculty volunteers to Shiprock to train IHS clinicians and help care for patients, providing shadowing and observation opportunities at the Brigham are equally important to its work and mission, said Thomas Sequist, MD, MPH, medical director of the Outreach Program, a primary care physician in the Phyllis Jen Center for Primary Care, and chief quality and safety officer at Partners HealthCare. Since 2009, the program has hosted training opportunities at the Brigham for 18 IHS clinicians.

“The delivery of highly specialized, complex care is crucially needed within the IHS. However, the number of patients that require such care on a day-to-day basis is relatively low, so if we send a BWH specialist to New Mexico, it is quite likely that there will be no training opportunity with actual patients the week they are there,” Sequist said.

Mohs agreed that observing the BWH Dermatology team in person was enormously beneficial. 

“We were able to see a large volume of more rare and complex conditions that we don’t see often enough to feel confident managing,” he said. “Being able to see these cases with BWH attendings and ask questions – and receive extensive answers from the experts – in real time was invaluable.”

Brigham Health’s Strategy in Action: Improve Health
Learn more about our strategic priorities at

BWHers Give Back This Holiday Season with Toys for Tots

From left: Kristen Koch, Bob Donaghue and Erin Sturgeon

The holiday spirit was in the air last week during BWH’s annual Toys for Tots drive. In just three days, the Brigham collected more than 1,000 toys and $1,400 in cash and check donations, thanks to the generosity of staff, patients and visitors.

The drive has become a Brigham tradition – one upheld by retired U.S. Marine Col. Bob Donaghue, former operations manager for BWH Security and Parking, along with the help of a team of volunteers, for 12 years.

Led by the U.S. Marine Corp. Reserve, the national Toys for Tots drive began in 1946 and has since grown exponentially. Last year, 18 million toys were collected and donated to 13 million families nationwide.

“Marines are more sentimental than you would imagine, and knowing there are children who don’t have toys makes many Marines feel like crying,” said Donaghue, who wears his Marine Corps dress uniform every year during the Brigham toy drive. “So, instead of crying, we collect toys.”

Donations fill a red sleigh in the lobby at 75 Francis St. By the end of this year’s drive, it overflowed with a variety of colorful toys, including board games, soccer balls and dolls. One hundred Beanie Babies – donated by Ron M. Walls, MD, Brigham Health executive vice president and chief operating officer – lined nearly every surface.

“I donated because it was an easy way to put a smile on a child’s face,” said Nancy Toscano, a medical technologist in the Department of Pathology who donated a Star Wars action figure and a children’s toy tool set.

Once the drive ends each year, Donaghue packs the donated toys into boxes and delivers them to the local U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. He uses the cash and check donations to purchase more toys that are also donated to Toys for Tots.

One donation box has been left at Pat’s Place restaurant at 15 Francis St. until Friday, Dec. 22, for those who would still like to contribute. These donations will be given to children in need from the local community.

For more information about the Greater Boston Toys for Tots drive or to make a monetary donation, visit

Sculpture Celebrates BWH’s Legacy of Organ Transplantation

Kerrie Ike, whose brother Kevin Sullivan was an organ donor, places an LED candle in front of the new sculpture.

In honor of the Brigham’s legacy of leadership and innovation in organ transplantation, BWH was recently selected as one of five sites around the world to receive a candle monument commemorating organ donors and their families.

Donated by Boston’s Sister City of Belfast, Ireland, the Irish limestone sculpture was recently installed in front of Stoneman Centennial Park. On Nov. 30, BWHers celebrated the gift and spoke about the importance of organ donation during a ceremony with representatives from the City of Boston, Belfast, New England Donor Services (NEDS), an organ donor’s family, a BWH lung transplant recipient and other community members.

“This is a very proud moment for us,” said Brigham Health President Betsy Nabel, MD. “We are deeply honored to receive this sculpture of light, which represents hope and inspiration for all who receive the gift of life through organ donation.”

Boston and BWH accepted the sculpture as part of the first Irish-led project and global event expressing appreciation for organ donors. The event was sponsored by the Ireland-based organization Strange Boat Donor Foundation and Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland. Each sculpture was gifted by one of Ireland’s five major cities – Belfast, Cork, Derry, Dublin and Galway – to its corresponding sister city around the world. In addition to Boston, sculptures have been installed in Barcelona, Spain; Cape Town, South Africa; Melbourne, Australia; and New Delhi, India.

The sculpture stands more than 5 feet tall and is a replica of the stone-sculpted candle on display in the Circle of Life Irish National Organ Donor Commemorative Garden in Galway, Ireland. The BWH sculpture is accompanied by a stone tablet that is engraved with information about the project.

“Individuals and families choosing to help someone in need through organ donation reflect the best of humanity,” said Belfast City Councilor Adam Newton.

Reliving History

The Brigham is an internationally recognized leader in organ and tissue transplantation. Many transplant milestones have taken place here, including the world’s first successful human organ transplant, a kidney transplant, performed by the late Nobel Prize Laureate and transplant pioneer Dr. Joseph E. Murray in 1954.

Standing next to the glass display case in the Rotunda that holds her father’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Virginia “Ginny” Murray, the eldest daughter of Dr. Murray, said her father would have been thrilled to be at the celebration and so proud of the Brigham’s tremendous advances in transplantation. She encouraged more individuals to sign up to be organ donors so those in need can benefit from such advances.

“As my father once said, ‘Service to society is the rent we pay for living on this planet,’” she said.

From left: Irish Consul-General Fionnuala Quinlan chats with BWH patient and transplant recipient Eileen Sullivan.

Describing the first kidney transplant as a “defining moment in medical history,” Sayeed Malek, MD, clinical director of Transplant Surgery at the Brigham, expressed his gratitude to those who have selflessly given the gift of life and urged others to help grow the ranks of organ donors.

“It is an opportunity that has no borders and embraces the whole world, as represented here today by Belfast and Boston,” he said.

Also in attendance at the ceremony was Eileen Sullivan, a BWH double-lung transplant recipient and NEDS volunteer. Sullivan said that thanks to her organ donors and the transplant team at BWH, she could be present for all of life’s greatest milestones, including watching her children grow up and celebrating her 30th wedding anniversary.

“I’m truly very grateful,” Sullivan said. “Through my volunteer work with the New England Donor Bank, I spread the message that organ donation works and it can work very well. I’m living proof of that.”

To view a gallery of photos from the celebration, click here.

1 Comment

‘An Unbreakable Bond’: BWHers Partner with Indian Health Service Providers

From left: Hanni Stoklosa, Mardi Chadwick, Annie Lewis-O’Connor, Jacqueline Savage Borne and Jessica Loftus

For several BWHers, including Srini Mukundan, MD, PhD, of the Department of Radiology, being able to work with care providers at Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., and Gallup Indian Medical Center in Gallup, N.M., through the Brigham and Women’s Outreach Program with Indian Health Service (IHS) has been an educational and transformative experience they will always cherish.

Mukundan, who has trained IHS staff on-site in Shiprock and remotely from BWH, said his experiences with the program provide an antidote to burnout and remind him why he chose this path in medicine.

“The Outreach Program opportunities have been one of the greatest rewards of being a BWHer,” Mukundan said. “After meeting the wonderful patients and witnessing firsthand the work of our remarkable colleagues at Shiprock, it is clear how important the essence of the physician-patient relationship is, especially in light of the limited resources available in Shiprock.”

Since 2009, BWHers have collaborated with the Navajo Area IHS – the federal agency responsible for delivering medical and public health services to members of federally recognized Native American tribes in the region. Through the Brigham and Women’s Outreach Program with IHS, BWH faculty, nurses, trainees and other providers volunteer their time and expertise to provide specialized care and training – on the ground at IHS hospitals and through remote teaching – in rural New Mexico and Arizona.

Advancing Care

Over the past year, BWHers across multiple disciplines have helped establish critically needed and sustainable services that would have otherwise been unavailable in these resource-poor areas.

Earlier this year, a BWH team traveled to Shiprock to teach IHS staff about human-trafficking in addition to screening and intervention strategies for domestic violence in the health care setting. Because of that visit, a BWH/IHS Trauma-Informed Care working group has been established with the goal to implement a trauma-informed care model in Shiprock by late 2018.

“During our time there, I learned new things from my Brigham colleagues as well as from the IHS staff. The whole experience challenged me to think more broadly about my interactions here with patients in the Emergency Department,” said Hanni Stoklosa, MD, MPH, an attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine and a member of the Division of Women’s Health, who trained IHS staff in human-trafficking awareness.

Annie Lewis-O’Connor PhD, MPH, NP, director of the C.A.R.E. Clinic and a member of the Division of Women’s Health, provided staff with techniques for incorportating trauma-informed care into practice, emphasizing the need for self-care, patient autonomy and meeting patients where they are at.

Also on the team was Jacqueline Savage Borne, LICSW, hospital program manager for the Passageway program in the Center for Community Health and Health Equity, who said working with the program was a professional dream fulfilled.

“The providers at Shiprock are so deeply committed to holistic, trauma-informed care for their patients,” Savage Borne said. “The resiliency in this community and its network of care providers is nothing short of inspiring.”

The collaboration between BWH and IHS providers results in dramatic, lasting improvements in care. Because of the radiology training provided by Mukundan, a neuroradiologist and medical director of Magnetic Resonance Imaging at BWH, along with other faculty members and house officers from the Department of Surgery, Shiprock providers are now able to screen patients for stroke based on head CT scans. Prior to this, they had no ability to provide this service.

Also in the works is a live, interactive remote video-training program to license IHS clinicians to be able to administer buprenorphine, a medication to treat opioid use disorder. Joji Suzuki, MD, director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry, provides the same training in Boston and will lead the new remote course. Such support is needed to help IHS clinicians combat the opioid crisis in their remote and resource-poor communities.

“I have a lot of respect for the clinicians in IHS. I have visited and taught remotely, and I’ve seen firsthand how they work under very difficult conditions due to their limited resources,” Suzuki said. “I’m pleased we’ll be able to help them have access to training that would have otherwise not been readily available.”

Thomas Sequist, MD, MPH, a primary care physician in the Phyllis Jen Center for Primary Care and medical director of the Outreach Program with IHS, said he believes the Outreach Program is a vital resource for the region.

“Access to specialty care services is particularly challenging in more rural parts of the country, often limiting the treatment options for patients in these areas,” said Sequist, who also serves as chief quality and safety officer at Partners HealthCare. “We are extremely proud of the work of our BWH clinical community – physicians, nurses and other staff working together to fill important gaps in care. This work is built on the premise of establishing long-lasting relationships that represent a sustainable approach to delivering advanced and high-quality care in these native communities.”

Brigham Health’s Strategy in Action: Improve Health
Learn more about our strategic priorities at

Local Students Donate Footstools to BWH for Breastfeeding Patients

Tegan and Khang Nguyen with their daughter, Ruby

Wooden footstools donated by students from Dedham High School are supporting new moms at the Brigham in more ways than one.

Crafted by a woodworking class, the footstools are available for postpartum patients to use while breastfeeding during their maternity stays in the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women and Newborns (CWN).

“Using a nursing stool can relieve stress you might experience on your shoulders, back and neck when you’re breastfeeding,” said Jennifer Riley, RN, IBCLC, a lactation consultant. “Many new moms are breastfeeding several times a day, and we want to do whatever we can to ensure they have maximum support while nursing.”

Many mothers who have just given birth often try to breastfeed by sitting in a chair in their hospital room, Riley said. This can be uncomfortable for some patients because their feet might not completely touch the floor, making them feel unstable. The wooden footstools help to eliminate that issue, Riley explained.

New moms usually need to breastfeed at least 10 to 12 times a day, Riley said. 

The department previously had a limited number of wooden footstools available.

Riley said she was overjoyed when she saw the stools being delivered to CWN a few weeks back.

“We were all very touched that the students took the time to build these for our patients,” Riley said. “This was such a kind and much-appreciated gesture. We can’t thank the students and instructor enough for their generous donation.”

Sitting in a chair while holding her newborn daughter, first-time mom Tegan Nguyen said using the footstool has made a big difference in her breastfeeding experience. Before heading home later that afternoon with baby Ruby, Nguyen and her husband, Khang Nguyen, MD, were looking online to see if they could purchase a similar stool for their home.

“It can be difficult to sit and learn to breastfeed after just giving birth, but the stool has made me feel much more comfortable and relaxed about the whole process,” said Nguyen. “My husband has even been using it to rest his feet while he holds Ruby in the chair.”

Lise Carolyn Johnson, MD, medical director of Well Newborn Care in the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine, was first introduced to David Haluska, the woodworking instructor at Dedham High, a few months ago by a pediatrician who rounds at the Brigham. Johnson said the project was the perfect way for the Greater Boston community to get closer to the Brigham community.

“The community is literally supporting our patients with these footstools,” Johnson said. “For new moms to succeed at breastfeeding, they need not only education but also the support of their care team, their family members and the community. Every time I see the stools, I think back to the students who created them. I hope they know that their donation means so much to us.”

BWH United Way Campaign Begins Oct. 30

Thanks to donations made during last year’s BWH United Way campaign, staff raised nearly $198,000 in support of programs that help families in our region avoid homelessness, obtain housing, gain job skills and/or job placement, better prepare children for kindergarten and help students stay in school and graduate.

BWH partners with United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley through an annual hospital-wide fundraising campaign. United Way distributes the funding to local nonprofits to improve the conditions of communities that BWH serves, with a focus on increasing opportunities for children and youth and bettering the financial stability of individuals and families.

The 2017 campaign, which runs from Monday, Oct. 30, to Wednesday, Nov. 22, has adopted a Star Wars theme with the tagline encouraging donors to “be a force for change.”

Beginning Oct. 30, BWHers will receive direct, personalized emails with a link to their own giving pages. Online donations can be made through payroll deduction, credit card or check. Printed pledge cards will also be available.

Lisa Morrissey, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, associate chief nurse of Peri-Procedural Areas, Stan Ashley, MD, chief medical officer, and Allen Smith, MD, MS, president of the Brigham and Women’s Physicians Organization, are co-chairs of the campaign.

Donors will have the opportunity to win raffle prizes, including an autographed New England Patriots helmet, mountain bikes, a flat-screen TV, Boston Bruins tickets, one month of free on-site parking (main campus or 850 Boylston St.) and more.

Foxborough Panel Highlights Opioid Crisis, Resources Available

Panelists discuss how health care, public safety, legal and community groups can collaborate to curb opioid misuse. From left: Mike Kelleher, Jennifer Rowe, David Faling, Claire Twark, Stephanie Scena, Wenhui Yang and Vicki Lowe.

BWH patient Stephanie Scena knows she might not be alive today if it weren’t for the many resources available in the local community to help her cope with a substance use disorder.

On May 17, Scena joined a panel of Brigham clinical experts, local officials and medical professionals from Foxborough to discuss the challenges of substance use disorder. During the event, broadcast on television and online by Foxboro Cable Access, Scena opened the discussion by speaking about her 15-year struggle with alcohol, opiates and other drugs and her path to recovery.

“I look back and can’t believe I’ve been sober for almost one year,” Scena said. “I’ve changed everything. I’ve changed the people I spend my time with, and I’ve changed my career. Most importantly, I’ve changed me and what’s in my heart.”

Fellow panelist Claire Twark, MD, who also participated in the discussion and is Scena’s former psychiatrist, emphasized that substance use disorder needs to be talked about openly and honestly in communities.

“Patients like Stephanie who are willing to discuss their struggles with addiction are inspirational and can also help to reduce stigma towards those with substance use disorders,” said Twark, of the Partners HealthCare Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship.

Collaboration at the Community Level

In addition to Scena and Twark, the panel included David Faling, MD, medical director of Brigham and Women’s Primary Care at Foxborough; Mike Kelleher, deputy fire chief of Operations at Foxborough Fire Department; Jennifer Rowe, Esq., assistant district attorney at the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office; and Wenhui Yang, LMHC, program director at Riverside Emergency Services. It was moderated by Vicki Lowe, executive director of the Foxborough Council on Aging and Human Services.

Speakers talked about warning signs, support strategies and how medical, legal, public safety and community organizations are coming together to tackle the opioid crisis.

One example they highlighted: Norfolk County was the first in the nation to require that police and fire departments carry naloxone – a fast-acting treatment used to reverse opioid overdoses – in every cruiser, engine and ladder truck, Rowe said.

In addition, a coalition of community advocates known as SAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment) has partnered with the town’s police and fire departments, schools, businesses and health care providers. The group focuses on understanding substance misuse in Foxborough and developing programs to help combat it.

On the clinical side, Twark spoke about the work she and her colleagues have done at the Brigham to address the opioid crisis, including training more physicians to prescribe buprenorphine – a medication used to treat opioid use disorder. There is also more focus on the use of motivational interviewing techniques with patients who have substance use disorders. Staff have also been trained to call Addiction Psychiatry when patients present with endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart valves that can result from injection drug use.

Cindy Peterson, MBA, executive director of Brigham and Women’s/Mass General Health Care Center in Foxborough, said she’s thrilled the panel has generated discussion in the community.

“The opioid crisis impacts all areas of every community, and Brigham and Women’s/Mass General Health Care Center is excited to support this effort of providing families and those seeking recovery the resources, tools and hope they need in the face of this epidemic,” she said.

To view the recording of the panel discussion, visit

Taking the Next STEPS: Mentorship Program for Young Parents Launches

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photo credit: Gretjen Helene Photography

When Laticia Goodman learned she was pregnant at 21 years old with her first child, her mind fired off a series of questions: Could she continue her education? What about her career plans? Was she really ready to be a parent?

Fortunately, Goodman didn’t have to answer those questions alone. Backed by her partner, family and friends – and with support from a BWH program for young parents like her – the Mission Hill mother celebrated the birth of her son Jonah, now 5, embarked on a career in the health care industry and plans to pursue an undergraduate degree.

Now, Goodman is part of a new cohort of young parents who will serve as peer mentors in a BWH program for other young parents confronting similar questions, challenges and triumphs. The initiative was announced during the seventh annual STEPS Young Parent Summit, a day-long event hosted by BWH’s Center for Community Health and Health Equity (CCHHE) on June 29.

“One of the things we know about young parents is that they’re often marginalized and isolated in their communities, so this mentorship program is a great way to break down those barriers,” said Maisha Douyon Cover, director of Health Equity Programs at CCHHE. “It’s someone who knows what you’re going through and all the complexities of not really being an adult, but not really being a kid, and now parenting.”

Both the summit and mentorship program are part of the CCHHE’s Stronger Generations, which supports a lifetime of good health through a focus on social, medical and economic needs before, during and after pregnancy.

The new group of mentors, whose roster is expected to grow in the coming months, are all alumni of the CCHHE’s Young Parent Ambassador Program. In addition to offering social support and services, the year-long program provides the ambassadors with leadership training and workforce development skills. Each mentor will be partnered with a parent or expectant parent under the age of 25.

Goodman, now 27, said that while she was fortunate to have such a supportive network of family and friends – including many who were also young parents – not everyone has the same experience. She added that interacting with other young parents through STEPS and the ambassador program was an invaluable opportunity – and one that has inspired her to give back as a mentor.

“I want to help people, especially someone who may not have that person to talk to – that big sister, aunt or friend who is going through or has gone through the same thing as you,” Goodman said.

When asked what advice she would give other young parents, Goodman offered a message of empowerment: “Life is not over. Your goals are not gone. It’s just a different pathway.”

‘I Have a Power in Me’

Each year, STEPS brings young families and community agencies together to provide a safe forum for young parents to expand their knowledge and access resources to help them succeed.

Hosted at Simmons College, this year’s summit opened with a panel discussion with several young parents, followed by workshop sessions covering a wide variety of topics. Included among them were candid discussions about early-childhood literacy, immigrant rights, sexuality, pursuing higher education, empowerment and, for the first time, a workshop for young parent allies on how to best support the young parent in their life.

In addition, a resource fair provided the young parent attendees with access to community-based agencies and organizations supporting pregnant and parenting young adults across the greater Boston area.

Among the event’s most moving moments are its annual Proud2Parent Young Parent Awards ceremony, which bestows five honors: the Courage Award, the Self-Sufficiency Award, the Resiliency Award, the Education Award and the Co-Parenting Award.

Wiping away tears as she accepted the Courage Award, Noime Alves shared how challenging it was to arrive in the United States six years ago when she was 18 years old, pregnant, unable to speak English and immigrating before her husband. Now a student at Endicott College, she expressed her gratitude for the programs and individuals who have supported her path to success.

“It was very difficult. When you don’t speak the language, you don’t even say your name and you can’t understand people,” Alves told the audience. “But now I will always say, ‘I’m the power.’ I have a power in me.”

Brigham Health’s Strategy in Action: Improve Health
Learn more about our strategic priorities at


Congrats, Grads! Celebrating Student Success Jobs Program Graduates

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As a shy and unsure high school sophomore beginning her BWH internship through the Student Success Jobs Program (SSJP) three years ago, Laureen Chalumeau froze when her supervisor instructed her to make her first phone call to a patient for an appointment reminder.

“I’m not ready for this,” she thought. But after a few months of working closely with her supervisor and mentor, Caroline Melia, BSN, RN, nurse care coordinator at Brigham and Women’s Advanced Primary Care Associates, South Huntington, something shifted for Chalumeau.

One day, a patient who only spoke Haitian Creole arrived for an appointment, but an interpreter was not immediately available. Chalumeau, who speaks Haitian Creole as well, jumped in to help translate without hesitation. Looking back now as one of this year’s 31 graduating SSJP seniors, she remembered how pivotal that moment felt and how surprised she was by her confidence.

“I don’t think I would ever speak Haitian Creole to anyone outside my family before that,” said Chalumeau, 18, who was recently awarded a six-year, full scholarship to attend Northeastern University, where she will study pharmacy. “SSJP just shook my world. I was so shy and introverted. Now I’m more outgoing and ready to challenge myself because SSJP supported me and put me in situations where I felt I could push myself.”

A program of the BWH Center for Community Health and Health Equity (CCHHE), SSJP matches Boston-area high school students with mentors across the Brigham for paid internships. The program is focused on fostering the next generation of talented, diverse health care workers. More than 40 departments host SSJP interns. All students who have completed the program enroll in college, and 75 percent study health or science.

Joined by their families, colleagues and SSJP underclassmen, this year’s seniors were honored during a graduation ceremony held at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center on June 19. Attendees heard reflections from SSJP alumna Nakia Ellies, their peers in the program and keynote speaker Cheryl Clark, MD, ScD, director of Health Equity Research and Intervention at CCHHE and a hospitalist in the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care. Clark advised graduates to find strength in community, believe in themselves and “take the long view” on what they seek to achieve or change.

Donell Rankins Jr., a sophomore at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury, told the audience how valuable his first year interning with inpatient Radiology has been.

“I was able to truly see that teamwork really does make the dream work,” he said. “Not only have I had the pleasure of being on the Radiology team but also the SSJP team. I have made so many friends from a plethora of different backgrounds and experiences that all come together and form a diverse SSJP community.”

Mentorship Builds Bonds

Reflecting on her three years in the program, Chalumeau said the most important component for her has been her relationship with her mentor.

“Caroline has always been there for me. No matter what issue I have, I could easily come to her,” said Chalumeau, who graduated from the Urban Science Academy in West Roxbury this month. “I look up to Caroline and aspire to be as great as she is. She’s a one-woman army in my eyes.”

At South Huntington, SSJP interns are treated like any other team member, whose ideas and contributions are all valued, Melia said. Last year, Chalumeau led an effort to create a team newsletter to better communicate information from staff meetings.

“They’re not just students. They’re people with great ideas, and they add a lot to the patient experience,” Melia said. “This program is really important not only for the students as a learning opportunity but also for the community, the hospital and the future of health care.”

Melia said it has been rewarding to see Chalumeau grow as a person and professional over the past three years and take the next steps in her studies and career.

“I’m so proud of Laureen and so happy for her. She’s such a special person,” Melia said.

SSJP is actively seeking departments and enthusiastic staff members to support its efforts. To learn more about how to become a mentor and host an SSJP intern, contact Pamela Audeh at 617-264-8740 or

Brigham Health’s Strategy in Action: Teaching & Training
Learn more about our strategic priorities at

Helping Alzheimer’s Patients and Families Communicate Better

Student volunteers gather with symposium guest Meredith Vieira (center) and BWH’s Jeff Robbins (back row, second from right).

For a family member of someone with Alzheimer’s disease, visiting hours at a nursing home can be among the more difficult moments they spend with their loved one.

“The experience most families have is that they dread going to the facility – and when they go, they stay for as short a time as possible – because the person they’re seeing isn’t the person they know, and they don’t know how to communicate with them,” said Jeffrey Robbins, LICSW, a clinical social worker in BWH’s Department of Neurology.

Helping families bridge that communications gap wasn’t one of the original goals of National Alzheimer’s Buddies, a volunteer organization Robbins founded in 2015, but the continued success of the program has made it a new area of focus for the group. The mission of National Alzheimer’s Buddies, which held its third symposium in Cambridge on April 1, is to alleviate some of the isolation and social disengagement experienced by people with intermediate- and late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Student volunteers in the program engage in weekly visits with their “buddies,” who live in long-term care facilities.

Volunteers organize events with their buddies’ families, such as brunches, but Robbins would like to focus on families even more. He said the communications skills and knowledge students develop through the program would be incredibly useful to share with their buddies’ family members. His hope in the coming year is to have volunteers provide tips families can use to have more successful visits with their loved ones.

“What I think we’ve created, although not by design, is this army of student volunteers who can really help this population and their family members,” said Robbins.

National Alzheimer’s Buddies grew out of the merger of local chapters at Harvard College and Gordon College. Robbins served as the senior advisor for both, and he continues in that capacity with the Harvard chapter. Now, the national group spans 10 chapters at universities and colleges nationwide, and three new chapters are expected to launch this fall.

At this year’s symposium, more than 100 attendees from around the country – comprising volunteers, advocates and experts – exchanged ideas and experiences. For Robbins, the most memorable moment that day was giving out the first Robert L. Berger Compassionate Care Award, named in memory of the national organization’s co-founder.

Robbins and Scott McGinnis, MD, of the Department of Neurology, gave individual presentations about Alzheimer’s research and care. Both also participated in a panel discussion moderated by talk show host and advocate Meredith Vieira. Students from various chapters also gave updates and shared personal stories highlighting their experiences.

Brookside Staff Volunteer in Haiti

Volunteers from Haiti and the U.S., including BWH’s Anne-Marie Armand (center, in purple scrubs) and Hubertus Kiefl (far right)

During a recent medical mission to Haiti, Brookside Community Health Center physician Hubertus Kiefl, MD, and a small team cared for approximately 700 patients over four days.

Kiefl was joined by 13 care providers and volunteers from BWH, a Haitian clinic and the Anastasie Aubourg Foundation, a Norwood-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting education and improving health in Haiti. They traveled to the town of Les Anglais, located in the southwestern region of Haiti, to provide acute care to people of all ages.

This was the third trip to Haiti that Kiefl, medical director of the foundation, participated in. He said the latest trip was the most difficult, both emotionally and physically, as he witnessed firsthand how Hurricane Matthew, which struck southwestern Haiti last October, devastated residents, especially those who live in and near Les Anglais.

“I’m grateful we were able to bring much-needed medications, medical supplies and food to children and families who are facing so much devastation,” Kiefl said. “I’m so glad that we could be there to care for others. That’s what we went to medical school for – to help others feel better. That’s the essence of medicine.”

The team cared for people with various conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes and malaria. In addition, clinicians and other volunteers worked with a Haitian urologist who joined the mission and performed five surgeries.

The team saw a large pediatric population and cared for women who were pregnant or breastfeeding. Kiefl said the team also provided health education to patients, including breastfeeding techniques.

Kiefl and his colleagues provided these services at a clinic in Les Anglais. Although the facility normally has one doctor who works a half-day each week, the closest hospital is two hours away. Many residents rely on the local clinic for medical services.

Anne-Marie Armand, LPN, of Brookside, is Haitian and was able to translate for many of the patients in the clinic. She was happy to help others in need and hopes to go back to Haiti soon on another mission.

“It was a feeling of fulfillment for me,” Armand said. “The patients were extremely grateful.”

The team was also able to bring donations of household items and toys to Haiti, including 500 toothbrushes, 800 pairs of reading glasses and 350 stuffed animals, as well as generic medications. The team also visited a local school and donated various school supplies.

BWHers Make Science Come Alive for Tobin School Students

Carolyn Bernstein shows one of many donated brain models BWH is delivering to local schools as part of its community outreach efforts.

It’s not every day that fourth graders get a lesson in neuroscience.

Carolyn Bernstein, MD, FAHS, of the Department of Neurology, wants to share her knowledge and enthusiasm about brain science with young students. For the past several years, she has done exactly that by teaching local children about neuroscience, most recently at the Tobin School in Mission Hill.

“I strongly believe that having one encounter with a scientist or physician in a classroom setting can be eye-opening for students and get them excited about science,” Bernstein said.

Earlier this month, Bernstein, along with Neurology resident Emily Ferenczi, MD, PhD, visited a classroom of 27 fourth-grade students at Tobin and guided them through three fun, hands-on science experiments. The experiments encouraged students to think like scientists as they learned about scientific terms, developing hypotheses and the differences between blinded and non-blinded experiments.

Bernstein and Ferenczi, who developed a curriculum that brings neuroscience to third- and fourth-grade students, learned about the opportunity to teach a lesson at the Tobin School through the BWH Center for Community Health and Health Equity (CCHHE). The CCHHE has a long-standing partnership with Tobin.

Pamela Audeh, CCHHE Youth Programs manager, said it’s inspiring to know that BWHers are willing to donate their time to teach students from the local communities that the institution serves.

“Our programs enable employees to bring pieces of the Brigham to students one lesson at a time,” Audeh said. “We want to build on these opportunities for students. We hope even more employees will volunteer to teach a lesson or talk with students about their work.”

Efrain Toledano, principal of the Tobin School, said the Brigham has played a crucial role in getting students engaged in science. Various initiatives sponsored by the CCHHE, including internship and employment opportunities for graduating seniors, have led to academic gains, he said.

“The partnership between Tobin and the Brigham is a model of how public schools and community partners can work together to have a positive impact on student achievement and the development of communities,” Toledano said.

Bernstein said the experience of seeing a child’s face light up when she walks into a classroom wearing her white coat is indescribable.

“Even a quick lesson about the brain, for example, can open a child’s eyes to science,” she said. “For me, teaching young children and answering their amazing questions are part of why I love my job so much.”

Bernstein and Ferenczi recently visited the classroom of Karen Byars, who said her students treasure every interaction with BWH staff.

“Every time students hear about what people do for work, it expands the possibilities for the trajectory of their lives,” Byars said. “When an adult takes time to share their expertise with a child, a profound change takes place. We work hard every day to guide our students toward taking their place in the adult world one day, helping to carry the torch for their generation in healing the world. Our partnership with BWH makes that work more tangible, meaningful and possible.”

Emily Ferenczi teaches fourth-grade students at the Tobin School.

To learn more about the CCHHE’s community outreach opportunities, contact Pamela Audeh at

BWH United Way Campaign Raises More than $197,000

Thanks to generous donors and a dedicated campaign committee, BWH raised $197,807 in support of those in need during the 2016 United Way campaign. During the campaign, which ran Nov. 1 though Dec. 9, donors were entered to win a host of raffle prizes, including a New England Patriots helmet signed by Julian Edelman, a mountain bike, a TV, gift cards to local restaurants and more. Every year, donations to the BWH United Way campaign help local families afford basic needs, such as food and heating oil, as well as programs for affordable housing, sustainable employment and youth opportunities.

ED ‘Adopts’ Local School to Help Children in Need


The ED staff’s shining moments this year were led by Eileen Keough, an administrative assistant in the Department of Emergency Medicine.

This fall, the ED got involved with John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Jamaica Plain by donating back-to-school supplies. This opportunity for giving took hold, and staff wanted more opportunities to support our neighborhood school. The ED organized MittenFest in November, collecting more than 300 hats and mittens that were given to the children at the school.

The department then made a pledge to “adopt” the same school for Christmas. We reached out to the school administration to make wish list of Christmas gifts for the neediest students. The school principal, nurse and a social worker compiled a list of homeless families whose children attend the school and will not have a Christmas without our help. We delivered the gifts, with help from Fallon Ambulance, on Dec. 19. The faculty and staff at John F. Kennedy Elementary School were grateful for our department’s philanthropy toward a student population in great need.

Janet Gorman, MM, BSN, RN
Nurse Director, Department of Emergency Medicine

Sock Drive at BWH Inspires Generosity


The nurses from the Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) Program organized a Sock Drive for Friends of Boston’s Homeless. CDI nurses collected more than 700 pairs of new socks, which were donated to the shelter on Dec. 16. The shelter distributes more than 8,000 pairs of socks annually.

Donation boxes were located on Shapiro 9 on 10 and near the Shapiro 2 information desk from Nov. 19 to Dec. 16. The team was inspired by the great response by all the BWH employees who donated, with special thanks to the Shapiro 9 and 10 staff who alone collected over 180 pairs.

Thanks to everyone who participated! We are already planning ways to make our sock drive bigger and better next year.

Deb Jones, RN; Julia Rattigan Curtin, RN; Ellen Downing, RN; Carol Harrington, RN; Cheryl Codner, RN; Cindy Simon, RN; and Andrea Kelly, RN, Program Director
Clinical Documentation Improvement Program

Winter Drives at BWH Warm Hearts – and Heads

Students from Tobin Elementary School in Mission Hill try on knitted hats donated this year by volunteers at BWH and beyond.

Students from Tobin Elementary School in Mission Hill try on knitted hats donated this year by volunteers at BWH and beyond.

Students at Tobin Elementary School in Mission Hill were overjoyed when they got to pick out knitted hats during the annual Caps for Kids event, one of several charitable events and drives BWHers have contributed to this holiday season.

For more than 25 years, Joan Casby, a senior physical therapist at the Brigham, along with other volunteers from BWH, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and elsewhere, collect handmade hats, mittens, scarves and other warm winter items and donate them to the local community.

On Dec. 14, 500 knitted hats and 20 scarves were distributed to the Tobin students. Casby said there are over 300 volunteers at BWH and DFCI who knit, crochet and sew their items. In total, 46 locations in and around Boston will receive warm winter items this year, including Boston Public Schools, early education centers, hospitals and community health centers.

Established in 1989 at the Brigham and 1999 at DFCI, Caps for Kids has donated tens of thousands of hats since its inception, which includes more than 12,000 hats this year.

“This is truly a team effort,” Casby said. “We find a head for every hat and something for everyone. The faces and excitement of the children and staff make all our efforts worthwhile.”

Here are some other ways BWHers are giving back this season:

Toys for Tots

A sleigh in the main lobby overflows with donations for Toys for Tots.

A sleigh in the main lobby overflows with donations for Toys for Tots.

In just three days this month, the Toys for Tots drive at BWH filled a sleigh in the main lobby with more than 1,000 toys and $1,448 in donations, thanks to the generosity of staff, patients and visitors.

With the help of a team of volunteers led by retired U.S. Marine Col. Bob Donaghue, former operations manager for BWH Security and Parking, donated toys were packed into large boxes on Dec. 9 to be delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program.

Welcome Winter Food Drive

Preston Dunphy, Kathy Bertone, Helen Thompson, Bob Donaghue and John McGonagle kick off the annual Welcome Winter Food Drive.

Preston Dunphy, Kathy Bertone, Helen Thompson, Bob Donaghue and John McGonagle kick off the annual Welcome Winter Food Drive.

The red sleigh in the 75 Francis St. lobby is now filling up with food during the annual Welcome Winter Food Drive. From now until Dec. 19, BWHers can drop off canned, boxed and other nonperishable food items at the sleigh. The food drive benefits the Parker Hill/Fenway ABCD Emergency Food Pantry in Mission Hill.

Bringing the Magic of the Holidays to BWH

For the 35th consecutive year, Jim Nentwig’s family and volunteers will present patients with flowers, gifts, knitted hats and blankets around Christmas. Nentwig first dressed up as Santa (and his children as elves) when his wife, Elizabeth, was a cancer patient at BWH in 1982. He brought gifts for all of the patients on her unit. Elizabeth asked her husband to continue the tradition after her death, which he has, facilitating the donation of hundreds of gifts to patients and staff, which now get delivered by many of his family members and volunteers dressed as Santa and elves here at BWH and elsewhere in the area.

If you know of a winter drive or giving opportunity that is being organized at BWH, or would like to submit a holiday photo taken at BWH for inclusion in the holiday gallery, email

After Hurricane, BWHers Help Haiti Recover

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-10-00-51-amThough Hurricane Matthew has passed, the devastation it wreaked in southern Haiti is ongoing – and getting worse by the day, said Regan Marsh, MD, MPH, an attending physician in BWH’s Department of Emergency Medicine and director of Infrastructure, Biomed and Pharmaceuticals at Partners In Health (PIH).

Last month, Hurricane Matthew, one of the most severe storms to hit the Caribbean in a decade, left hundreds of thousands of Haitians in need of emergency assistance. The storm carried winds of up to 140 miles an hour and resulted in an estimated 40 inches of rainfall.

Most of southern Haiti’s farmlands were destroyed, leaving residents without crops and livestock. The region is also seeing a spike in cholera cases, due to contaminated water. Cholera is an acute diarrheal disease caused by drinking water or eating food from sources that have been contaminated with bacteria.

“Even before the hurricane, people were teetering on malnutrition because the harvest has been so poor in the area for several years,” said Marsh. “Without any backup resources, people are struggling.”

The hurricane destroyed homes and parts of the southern region’s main hospital, Hôpital Immaculée Conception, in Les Cayes.

Staff from BWH, Partners HealthCare and PIH are working together, from Boston and on the ground in Haiti, to assist Haitian clinicians.

Marsh and her colleagues have been gathering donations of equipment for the hospital, such as beds and lab instruments. PIH is also purchasing medications and other supplies.

Joia Mukherjee, MD, MPH, of BWH’s Division of Global Health Equity and PIH chief medical officer, said Hôpital Immaculée Conception is offering food and free medications to patients in need. Social workers and mental health staff are on hand to support patients and providers. In addition, PIH donor funds will help the hospital repair its roof, restore electricity and stock medical supplies.

Local clinicians, with support from BWH, PIH and other institutions, are also working to ensure medical supplies are available at PIH-supported health centers and cholera treatment facilities in Haiti’s central region, located north of Port-au-Prince, as an influx of patients from southern Haiti have come there seeking care.

Louise Ivers, MD, MPH, of the BWH Division of Global Health Equity and senior health and policy advisor for PIH, and Mukherjee traveled to Haiti after the hurricane to help curb the spread of cholera.

Michelle Morse, MD, MPH, assistant program director for the BWH Internal Medicine residency program and PIH’s deputy chief medical officer, says the way BWH works so closely with PIH to support Haiti is a tremendous model.

“While much more still needs to be done to improve health care in Haiti, we know that we will be most successful by supporting our Haitian colleagues whose commitment to saving lives will be Haiti’s future,” she said.

Outside of the hurricane response, BWH also has several ongoing initiatives around sustainability and long-term support for Haiti, according to Jennifer Goldsmith, MS, MEd, director of Administration for the Division of Global Health Equity.

“We are honored to work as partners with our colleagues in Haiti, whether in the face of tragedy or in daily collaboration on health system strengthening,” Goldsmith said. “As an organization, we have a long-standing commitment to working together, and we are honored to play an important role.”

‘We Are Still Going to Be Here’: Supporting Victims of Community Violence

From left: Rashaan Peters, Masika Gadson and David Crump

From left: Rashaan Peters, Masika Gadson and David Crump

In their role as violence recovery advocates at BWH, Masika Gadson and Rahsaan Peters work to support victims of community violence treated at BWH, even after discharge from the hospital.

The advocates are part of the Center for Community Health and Health Equity’s (CCHHE) Violence Recovery Program, which provides comprehensive resources to patients admitted to BWH after experiencing violence, as well as to referred members of the community at risk of becoming a victim of violence or who have previously experienced it. The program is a collaboration between the CCHHE and BWH’s Division of Trauma, Burn and Surgical Critical Care.

Gadson and Peters are paged if a victim of violence is admitted to the BWH Emergency Department. If a patient is willing to speak with the advocates, the advocates begin an ongoing conversation about the events that led the patient to be affected by violence and connect them with support they need at BWH and beyond.

The advocates set up safety plans to help keep patients safe as they transition back into the community after discharge. But their work doesn’t end there. They reach out to support groups and attend court hearings, housing appointments and job interviews with patients. They have even picked up groceries in the past. Individually, each of these acts may seem like small gestures, but they add up and equate to large improvements in the safety and quality of life of Boston residents and families.

“We are like a bridge,” said Gadson. “We want to make people feel welcome, even if they are denying the service we provide. We tell them, ‘If you change your mind, we are still going to be here.’”

Additionally, the advocates meet with residents of Boston’s neighborhoods who have not directly experienced violence but who might need support and advice.

“It helps to be recognized in the community as someone who provides many different kinds of support,” said Peters. “The rewarding thing about our job is that we have the opportunity to really help people.”

At the heart of Gadson and Peters’ work is relationship-building, which provides a better chance of follow-up after patients go home, says Mardi Chadwick, JD, director of Violence Intervention and Prevention Programs for the CCHHE. The duo’s extensive background assisting high-risk youth and families over the years has helped them make connections across the city and build trust with the people they serve, which totals 170 people this past year, a 60 percent increase from 2015.

“Having a program dedicated to recovery from trauma acknowledges violence as a public health issue,” said Chadwick. “It is essential for health care providers to understand the connection between violence and health and well-being.”

Violence Recovery Program manager David Crump, who started this work five years ago when the program first launched, credits close partnerships and collaboration with BWH clinicians and support from BWH leadership as keys to the program’s success.

“Staff’s awareness of what we do and their eagerness to connect with us to make sure their patients are being seen – that says a lot,” said Crump. “Everyone is on the same page. Additionally, I am extremely proud of Rahsaan and Masika’s ability to take this work to another level. They are not only achieving the program’s goals, but also exceeding them, and that right there blows me away.”

BWH’s United Way Campaign Launches Nov. 1

From left: Campaign co-chairs Allen Smith, Lisa Morrissey and Stan Ashley

From left: Campaign co-chairs Allen Smith, Lisa Morrissey and Stan Ashley

Thanks to donations made during last year’s BWH United Way campaign, 654 families avoided homelessness or obtained housing, 390 people gained job skills and/or job placement, 234 children were better prepared for kindergarten and 506 students received support to help them stay in school and graduate.

“Every dollar that’s donated helps to provide services and programs to improve the quality of life for children and families in need,” said Lisa Morrissey, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, interim chief nursing officer and senior vice president of Patient Care Services. “Our donors’ generosity goes a long way.”

BWH partners with United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley through a hospital-wide fundraising campaign. United Way distributes the funding to local nonprofits to improve the conditions of the communities that BWH serves, focusing on increasing opportunities for children and youth and bettering the financial stability of individuals and families.

The 2016 campaign, which launches on Tuesday, Nov. 1, will run through Tuesday, Nov. 22. Morrissey, along with Stan Ashley, MD, BWH chief medical officer, and Allen Smith, MD, MS, BWPO president, serve as this year’s co-chairs of the campaign. The goal this year is to raise $200,000. Last year, BWH raised more than $206,000 for United Way.

Beginning Nov. 1, BWHers will receive direct, personalized emails with a link to their own giving pages. Online donations can be made through payroll deduction, credit card or check. Printed pledge cards will also be available.

This year, donors will have the opportunity to win a host of exciting prizes, including a New England Patriots helmet signed by wide receiver Julian Edelman, a Nest Thermostat and more.

Smith, who has served as co-chair for four years, says he supports United Way because it identifies local organizations that will have the biggest impact on those in our community facing poverty, homelessness, barriers to education and other issues.

“Being part of a community means taking care of each other, even if we don’t know who is on the receiving end of our support,” said Smith. “Each year, we are inspired by BWHers who carry this out with generosity and kindness during the United Way campaign. We hope the Brigham will once again show its support this year for community members in need.”

Reducing Social, Economic Barriers to Health Equity in the Local Community

Local children learn to prepare healthy meals at All Dorchester Sports League, one of 14 organizations awarded Health Equity Grants from BWH.

Local children learn to prepare healthy meals during a Fit Kitchen class at All Dorchester Sports League, one of 14 community organizations awarded a Health Equity grant from BWH.

Poverty, past experience with trauma and even proximity to a supermarket can all impede a person’s health. To help our local community overcome these obstacles, BWH’s Center for Community Health and Health Equity (CCHHE) recently awarded grants to 14 nonprofits working to improve the health and wellness of children, adults and seniors in Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill and Roxbury.

The center will distribute $640,000 annually to grant recipients for the next three years – totaling more than $1.9 million in funding – with individual organizations receiving grants ranging from $20,000 to $100,000. A second round of grant recipients will be selected in 2019.

Although the CCHHE has supported community organizations over the years, this marks the first time it has opened up funding opportunities more broadly through a competitive grant process. A committee selected 14 winners from a pool of 86 applicants.

The 14 organizations cover a wide range of services. They include Mothers for Justice and Equality, located in Roxbury, which helps mothers and young people affected by violence. The Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition works to make healthy food and fitness opportunities accessible and affordable. Sociedad Latina supports Latino youth from Mission Hill and Roxbury by providing education and workforce development programs.

Despite differing missions, the organizations share a common trait. They all take a holistic approach to health equity, said Wanda McClain, vice president of Community Health and Health Equity at BWH.

“Eighty percent of what makes us healthy can be attributed to factors outside of the health care system, such as whether we live in a safe neighborhood, have access to high-quality education or have access to healthy, affordable foods,” McClain said. “These 14 organizations are working closely with their communities to address the social factors that contribute to poor health outcomes. We see these funds as an opportunity to expand what is often thought as the traditional scope of health care to promote prevention and wellness at the community level.”

One of the organizations, All Dorchester Sports League – which offers youth sports, tutoring and fitness classes – will use the BWH grant to expand its Fit Kitchen program, a weekly free cooking class for children and families. It plans to provide stipends for instructors, including multilingual nutrition experts to support Dorchester’s growing Latino and Vietnamese populations.

Started in the 1990s as nutrition lectures for teenagers, the program has since evolved into interactive cooking demos for families, with a focus on easy, healthy and affordable meals. Now, classes are packed each week and serve as community-building events.

“By the end of the two hours, everyone is hugging, laughing and exchanging phone numbers,” said Candice Gartley, executive director of All Dorchester Sports League. “In addition to learning how to cook healthy foods, they get to know their neighbors. That’s our mission – to bring people together.”

Over the next three years, the CCHHE will also collaborate with the UMass Donahue Institute, which will measure the outcomes of projects that received funding and track how the grant money is being used.

“We have the opportunity to really make an impact in our community and in a very broad way,” McClain said.

BWH’s 2016 Health Equity Grants Recipients

  • All Dorchester Sports League
  • Alternatives for Community and Environment
  • Baraka Community Wellness
  • College Bound Dorchester
  • Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition
  • MissionSAFE
  • Mothers for Justice and Equality
  • Sociedad Latina
  • Span, Incorporated
  • St. Stephen’s Youth Programs
  • The HEART Consortium
  • Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry
  • United South End Settlements
  • Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts

Click here to learn more about the 14 projects being funded.

BWH Opens Doors of New Building to Local Community

Local artist Tom Stocker, whose artwork is featured in the building, chats at the breakfast.

Local artist Tom Stocker, whose artwork is featured in the building, chats at the breakfast.

On Sept. 22, BWH hosted a community event at 60 Fenwood Road to showcase how the new building, now named the Building for Transformative Medicine, will fuel collaboration, accelerate breakthroughs and transform patient care. Lawmakers, government officials, civic leaders and local community members in attendance enjoyed a hot breakfast, heard from BWH leaders and had the opportunity to tour the facility.

“All of us here at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are deeply committed to transforming the future of medicine—and this building is where we’ll make it happen,” said BWHC President Betsy Nabel, MD.

Other speakers included Wanda McClain, vice president of the Center for Community Health and Equity, who noted the project has invested in the local community in more ways than one. Its budget includes funding for 10 grants for local organizations developing programs to address behavioral health in community settings, workforce development and racial equity.

Paul Anderson, MD, PhD, BWHC chief academic officer and senior vice president of Research, described how the new building will advance research. Ron M. Walls, MD, BWHC executive vice president and chief operating officer, thanked the thousands of people whose hard work made the building a reality. He also highlighted the artwork selected for the building and thanked the artists, many of whom were in attendance. 

“This has been a thoughtful project, and it is one that we are confident will foster translational medicine and solve neurologic, orthopedic and rheumatologic puzzles,” Walls said. “In addition, many patient advisors were involved in the planning and design of the building from the beginning, sharing insights that enabled us to incorporate the patient and family perspective into the project.”

Emergency Medicine Fellows Assist Refugees in Greece

Front row, second from left: Nirma Bustamante with other volunteers at a refugee camp in northern Greece

Front row, second from left: Nirma Bustamante with other volunteers at a refugee camp in northern Greece

For BWH International Emergency Medicine fellow Nirma D. Bustamante, MD, having the opportunity to travel to Greece to care for refugees is an experience she will always cherish.

“I had the privilege of caring for, and most importantly, getting to know the most incredible human beings,” said Bustamante, of the Division International Emergency Medicine and Humanitarian Programs in the Department of Emergency Medicine at BWH, which prepares leaders in global health and humanitarian response.

Earlier this month, Bustamante spent more than two weeks at a refugee camp in northern Greece, along with volunteers from Team Rubicon, which recruits, trains and deploys U.S. military veterans and health professionals to aid in disaster-response operations around the world. Bustamante provided primary and urgent care to Syrian and Iraqi refugees, developed care plans and helped patients access specialty care in the local community.

She was one of two BWH physicians who traveled to Greece via the fellowship. Over the course of the two-year program, clinicians develop skills in humanitarian aid and disaster response, emergency care systems development, health program administration and funding, human rights and more. They also must complete one emergency deployment, where they care for people forced from their homes due to a disaster or conflict. Before deploying, fellows receive specialized training in humanitarian and disaster response.

Bustamante said that while the refugees had experienced unimaginable suffering, she was struck by their positive outlook.

“Although I will be a tiny speck on their path to a better life, I, along with countless other volunteers, work every day so that this moment in time is positive and reminds them that intrinsic good still exists,” Bustamante said.

Thousands of refugees have fled to Greece to escape war and poverty, due to its close proximity to areas in crisis. Currently, 200 Syrian refugees live at the medical camp where Bustamante volunteered. The camp is expected to grow to about 800 people by the end of this year.

A former fellow herself, Stephanie Kayden, MD, MPH, chief of the Division of International Emergency Medicine and Humanitarian Programs and director of the International Emergency Medicine Fellowship, said it’s inspiring to speak with fellows once they return.

“Our fellows learn a lot about how to practice humanitarian medicine properly, as well as what happens if the job is done poorly,” Kayden said. “When they go out, they think they are going to learn new skills and become better clinicians—and they do—but I think the thing that surprises our fellows the most is how much of the care given by volunteers who lack specialized training falls short of international standards.”

Harveen Bergquist, MD, a BWH fellow who also deployed to Greece, arrived on Sept. 20 to assist the refugee camp with medical care. Bergquist says she feels a personal obligation to help others.

“I feel fortunate to have the training and departmental support to do just that,” she said. “My goal is simply to do my best to provide the quality medical care that all people deserve, while also helping to restore dignity and normalcy to people who have suffered tremendously.”

BWHers Continue to Help Bring Health Equity to Rwanda


From left: Paul Farmer and Ira Magaziner

Traumatized by years of civil war and a devastating act of genocide in the early 1990s, Rwanda used to be a place where hope was in short supply.

Over time, however, the country came back stronger than ever—investing in education, infrastructure and regional trade—and Rwanda’s economy enjoyed one of the largest growth rates in the world last year. Still, one critical resource remained scarce: health care.

In 2010, the World Health Organization reported that Rwanda had one of the lowest rates of physicians per capita in the world. A country of nearly 11 million people, Rwanda was home to about 600 physicians at that time. Most were concentrated in large cities like Kigali, leaving rural areas underserved, especially in terms of specialists.

Now that picture is changing, thanks in large part to the Human Resources for Health Program, a collaborative, seven-year project with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School (HMS), the Rwandan Ministry of Health and more than 20 other academic institutions in the United States.

Currently in its fifth year, the program sends physicians and faculty from multiple specialties to Rwanda to train the country’s next generation of clinicians, researchers and medical instructors. BWH is the lead institution for clinical faculty for all Harvard affiliates from the Boston area, and it has recruited and deployed more than 50 specialists and sub-specialists over the last four years. To date, more than 340 clinicians have participated in the program.

“This partnership was forged by something very powerful: shared convictions about health equity,” said Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, chief of the BWH Division of Global Health Equity and co-founder of the nonprofit Partners In Health. The Human Resources for Health Program was the result of partnerships that Farmer helped establish in Rwanda.

When the program concludes in two years, its organizers hope to see significant increases in the total number of care providers in Rwanda and bring more specialists to rural areas. By 2018, the number of physicians is expected to reach 1,182—nearly double the physician census in 2011. Organizers expect to see the number of nurses grow by about 34 percent, with the goal of reaching 11,384 nurses by 2018.

Representatives from across the HMS-affiliated hospitals involved with the program—including BWH, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute—shared milestones and challenges over the past year at the “Symposium on Rwanda Human Resources for Health Program: A Success Story of a True Partnership” on June 10.

Capping off the half-day event at HMS’ Joseph B. Martin Conference Center was a panel discussion with Farmer and Ira Magaziner, CEO and vice chairman of the Clinton Health Access Initiative. Agnes Binagwaho, MD, PhD, Rwanda’s Minister of Health, joined via video conference.

“After the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, almost no one believed in the future of Rwanda,” Binagwaho said. “We created a future that was defined by innovation—doing what nobody expected of us—because we believed that each and every person deserves the best future.”

The HRH program aims at replacing a culture of foreign aid with one of self-sufficiency. The expectation is that greater access to high-quality health care will improve the country’s economy—whether that means ensuring children’s physical and intellectual growth isn’t stunted by malnutrition, or by creating an environment that attracts biotech companies, Magaziner said.

“What we’re aiming for is sustainability,” he said. “We want to work ourselves out of a job, ultimately.”


Cultivating Interest and Instruction in Anesthesiology in Rwanda

Jill Lanahan

Jill Lanahan

Training residents in anesthesiology is not only about teaching them the medicine behind the specialty, says Jill Lanahan, MD, of the BWH Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine. It’s also about sharing a passion for the profession to inspire them to join the field.

Lanahan has done exactly that at the Brigham since March 2014, and for the next year she will share that same expertise and enthusiasm for anesthesiology with the next generation of physicians in Rwanda as part of the Human Resources for Health (HRH) Program, a collaborative, seven-year project between the Rwandan government, BWH, Harvard Medical School and more than 20 other academic institutions in the U.S. The program recently began its fifth year.

Lanahan—who relocated with her family to the Rwandan capital, Kigali, on Aug. 2—will spend one day each week doing didactic training with her new crop of residents. The other four days will consist of clinical training in the operating room. During her year-long position, she will offer three months of training in cardiac anesthesia, her primary area of clinical interest.

Although she has long had a desire to get involved in global health, Lanahan says HRH piqued her interest after chatting with two BWH colleagues in her department who were alumni of the program: Stewart Chritton, MD, PhD, and Ramon Martin, MD, PhD. She felt compelled to participate after learning just how scarce anesthesiologists are in Rwanda.

“There are fewer than 20 anesthesiologists in the whole country, and we have more than 100 in our department at the Brigham,” she said. “There’s a critical need for anesthesiologists in Rwanda.”

In Rwanda, there may only be one anesthesiologist per hospital, Lanahan explained. In addition, anesthesia is often administered by technicians—whose highest level of education is typically a high school diploma—rather than physicians or nurses, she said. In comparison, only licensed anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists may provide anesthesia to a patient in Massachusetts.

The lack of specialized training can be deadly, Lanahan said.

“People fear anesthesia in Rwanda, and part of it is because there’s a higher morbidity and mortality rate associated with it,” she said. “By training specialists in anesthesia, we can increase the likelihood that it will be administered safely to patients.”

As part of its broader goal to build a more self-sustaining health care system in Rwanda, the program has gradually sent fewer U.S. clinicians each year to train residents.

Lanahan is one of a handful of anesthesiologists in attendance this year.

“The idea is that if a resident from a country such as Rwanda goes elsewhere to train, they might not come back to their home country,” Lanahan said. “So by bringing doctors to Rwanda, you can train them in their own environment and expand the number of physicians there.”

How Does My Role Fit Into Our Strategy?

Every staff member, position and department at BWH affects at least one aspect of our institutional strategy. Here are a few examples of how different roles contribute to BWH’s areas of strategic focus, helping to ensure our success well into the future.


Advanced, Expert Care; Improve Health; Timely Access; Exceptional Experience; Highest-Quality, Safe Care: Provide patients and families with highly skilled, compassionate and patient-centered care. Follow best practices daily to improve quality (e.g., hand hygiene to reduce infection rates). Follow the principles of a Just Culture. Teach and mentor residents, fellows and other trainees.

Environmental Services Staff

Timely Access; Exceptional Experience; Highest-Quality, Safe Care: Keep patient rooms, hallways and public areas clean so that patients and their families are comfortable and safe from infection, falls and other issues and so that they receive care in a timely manner. Be timely in response to requests for action. Support each other and the care teams.


Scalable Innovation; Improve Health: Perform ground-breaking research; accelerate findings that improve health; and facilitate collaboration across teams and disciplines.

Food Services Staff

Timely Access; Exceptional Experience; Highest-Quality, Safe Care: Ensure meals are cooked to highest standards, in terms of both quality and food safety, and delivered on time. Support each other and the care teams.

Security Officer

Exceptional Experience: Provide a safe and secure environment for all patients, visitors and staff. Be approachable to all patients, visitors and staff.

Lab Technician

Timely Access; Highest-Quality, Safe Care: Collect and process lab specimens carefully and without delay so that care teams can communicate lab results to patients promptly and help them make informed decisions about their care.

Front Desk Staff

Timely Access; Exceptional Experience: Greet patients warmly. Ensure a prompt check-in process and be transparent with the patient if there are delays. Support each other and the care teams.

Finance Professional

Scalable Innovation; Highest-Quality, Safe Care: Find fiscally responsible opportunities to reinforce or strengthen our financial foundation in order to ensure the continued growth of patient care initiatives, ground-breaking research and infrastructure investments. Work to ensure proper payments are collected for services rendered.

Community Outreach Worker

Timely Access; Improve Health; Highest-Quality, Safe Care: Share Brigham’s expertise and compassionate care model with our local and global community, such as participating in violence prevention efforts and other public health concerns in Boston or medical missions abroad.

All Staff

No matter what your role is, everyone in the hospital can contribute to the goal of Affordability: Lowest Cost Possible by finding ways to improve productivity, reduce waste, add efficiencies and identify cost-saving measures. Everyone also plays a part in providing patients, families and visitors with an Exceptional Experience. This can be something as simple as looking out for patients and visitors who appear lost and offering to assist them.