Candidate for Region III: Regional Director
1. What are your greatest contributions to ASAM and the field of addiction medicine?
Over the past nine years, I have worked closely with other New England chapters on regional meetings, including the nationally recognized Cape Cod Symposium, and provided liaison to individual officers throughout New England on issues of national importance. During my tenure on the ASAM Board, I have worked on the Finance Committee and as an inaugural member of the Ethics Committee. Since moving to Massachusetts in 2007, I have continuously served as a MASAM officer and have helped the chapter grow on all fronts.
Eight years ago, I started an interdisciplinary Buprenorphine Treatment program at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital; this program continues to grow, now with four physicians and over 200 patients. I have been active in planning Pearls of Practice, the MASAM based addiction medicine conference. I have also worked on other CME events in Massachusetts.
Nine years ago, I initiated the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital Addictions Conference (now in its 10th year); this conference uses an inter-disciplinary team based approach to present state of the art strategies and evidence based interventions that promote long-term outcomes for addictive disorders for physicians and other collaborating health providers. My faculty work at Tufts University School of Medicine enhances the education of medical students on our field and safe practice.
Prior to moving to Massachusetts I was a founding member of the CT-ASAM and officer for nine years, I helped increase the breadth and scope of ASAM’s presence in CT through educational events, public policy, membership activities and a newsletter. In partnership with other disciplines, CT-ASAM successfully lobbied the state legislature to create a Health Care Professional Assistance Program for impaired health professionals of all disciplines. In collaboration with other leaders, I facilitated growing membership and improving CME.
In 2001, I led the establishment of an on-site Hepatitis C clinic at the Hartford Dispensary (an OTP), demonstrating the successful integration of psychiatric and substance abuse treatments into HCV care. This work received national recognition, including course offerings at ASAM meetings. I also worked as one of the founding members of CT’s statewide DPH/DMHAS Viral Hepatitis Prevention Plan. Through participation in the 2002 NIH HCV Consensus Conference, I aided the successful modification of treatment guidelines so that patients with substance abuse and psychiatric disorders would receive interferon-based therapy.
Since July 2015, I have served as a governor’s appointee to the MA Drug Formulary Commission. Our group has been tasked with developing a formulary of therapeutically equivalent substitutes for opioid drugs determined to be having a heightened public health risk. This group works in concert with other state-wide initiatives towards reducing the scope of opioid epidemic related to the usage of prescription drugs.
2. How would your election benefit ASAM and the field of addiction medicine?
Over the past 21 years, I have used my wide range of clinical and managerial skills to serve the needs of patients with substance use disorders and behavioral health patients. My professional commitment is to help move health care delivery toward the integration of medical care and substance use disorders in respectful and innovative ways. In this I am committed to engaging policy as well as practice.
Over the span of 19 years, I have served as an officer for two of the New England chapters. These experiences enable me to serve as a representative and mentor for all chapters in their programmatic growth. My highest priority as Region III Director will continue to be the promotion of growth of our affiliate chapters in New England, and increasing our members’ involvement in our organization. I do this by serving as a resource to the membership chapters of Region III, and working directly and in-person with their leadership teams and helping to build membership through CME and other experiences. In this period when opioid addiction has received national and regional attention as the epidemic that it is, continuity of leadership seems particularly important to allow us maximum efficacy. Through the strength of our chapters, we enhance our ability to achieve higher levels of service, enhance the experience of physicians and other providers who want to be part of the solution of this terrible problem, and ultimately to save lives.
Since moving to Massachusetts in 2007, I have been active in the Massachusetts Chapter; first serving as the Secretary, then as Treasurer. I have been the Regional Director for the past three years, and Alternate Regional Director (2007-2012). Since 2009, I have worked as the Chief Medical Officer of Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Boston, a facility that cares for many patients with substance use disorder, previously serving as Chief of Medicine. In addition, I am a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine and Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. I am board-certified in addiction medicine, internal medicine and gastroenterology, and a member of the AMA, ACP, and AGA. I have been a member of ASAM since 1997, earned certification in 1998, and was elected an ASAM Fellow in 2003. ABAM certified in 2009.
As a member of the Connecticut Chapter, I served as an officer [Secretary (1998–2005), Vice-President (2005–2006), and President (2006–2007)], where the chapter tripled its membership. While in Connecticut, I was the Medical Director of Ambulatory Care Services at Connecticut Valley Hospital & a Middlesex Hospital Hospitalist (1999–2007); where I helped initiate the first pain management teams, and served as a CT Cancer Pain Initiative Steering Committee member. Previously, I served as Site Medical Director and Program Physician for Community Substance Abuse Centers (an OTP) in Hartford (1998–2003), delegate-at-large for the CT State Medical Society (2001–2007), member of the CT Committee on Alcohol & Other Drug Dependency (2000–2007), and member of the Hartford County Medical Association Committee on Physician Health (2001–2007).