Gaudenzia - Philly House Women's Program
It’s Never Too Late: What Life Looks Like After Incarceration (click to view poster)
Rachel Quinn, Drexel University College of Medicine
Charlene Chen, MD, Esperanza Health Center
Rayn Phillips, MSW, LSW, Gaudenzia Inc.
Gaudenzia aspires to connect individuals and families to addiction and mental health treatment so they can attain long-term recovery and achieve a fulfilling life embraced by a broad community of mutual support. The Gaudenzia Philly House Women’s Program is a halfway house that has a contract with the Department of Corrections and aims to provide a successful transition from prison back into society.
The Bridging the Gaps student intern at Gaudenzia Philly House Women’s Program worked with individuals who are reentering society from prison. The intern supported these individuals by actively listening to their stories and providing them with access to resources. The intern helped connect residents to medical care and accompanied them to medical appointments to help advocate for their healthcare needs. The intern also led group discussions on cardiovascular health, oral health, and emotional well-being.
Rachel Quinn: “My experience at the Gaudenzia Philly House Women’s Program opened my eyes to the inequities individuals face when reintegrating into society from prison. Through BTG, I was able to work with a population that does not receive care, support, or attention from our society. Despite serving their time, these women are given permanent labels that affect their ability to receive proper healthcare, employment, and housing needs. After working with these women and listening to their life stories, I learned how systemic inequities and challenging life circumstances often contributed to the mistakes they made, which ultimately resulted in their incarceration. My main takeaway is that no matter what someone did in the past, they are deserving of support and a chance for growth.”
Gaudenzia - Together House Men's Program
Supporting Individuals With Substance Use Disorder and Co-Existing Conditions (click to view poster)
Benjamin Berman, Drexel University College of Medicine
Charlene Chen, MD, Esperanza Health Center
Rayn Phillips, MSW, LSW, Gaudenzia Inc.
The Gaudenzia Together House Men’s Program provides addiction treatment services for adult men with a history of criminal justice involvement, including high-intensity residential substance use disorder treatment, co-occurring disorders treatment, individual and group counseling, trauma-informed care, culture-informed care, and gender-responsive care.
The Bridging the Gaps student intern at Gaudenzia Together House Men’s Program learned the full process of the Gaudenzia recovery pipeline for substance use disorders, from detox to intake and programming to discharge. The intern learned to take clinical notes during group sessions, conduct biopsychosocial interviews and other intake processes, and was exposed to the different functions of the full clinical team of an addiction services center. In addition, the intern shadowed the medical staff, assisted with physical assessments, and co-facilitated group sessions focusing on coping strategies.
Benjamin Berman: “Working at Gaudenzia was an eye-opening experience. Every day was a new challenge and a new chance to learn. What stood out most to me was speaking with the clients on the floor. The clients all have a story behind their addiction, and it truly exposed me to the co-existing determinants of health. I learned a lot from the clinical and medical staff and was able to the see the process at Gaudenzia, start to finish. Gaudenzia has impacted my patience and awareness of trauma-informed care and exposed me to the field of addiction medicine. The skills and perspectives I have learned at Gaudenzia will stick with me, and I know they will benefit me as a future healthcare professional.”
Mental Health Partnerships, The Well and A New Life
Margaux Games, Drexel University College of Medicine
Esther Chernak, MD, MPH, FACP, Drexel University College of Medicine, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health
Debora King, MA, LPC, ATR-BC, Mental Health Partnerships
Since 1951, Mental Health Partnerships (MHP) has been at the forefront of transforming mental health services. Its foundation lies in a community-based approach that nurtures self-efficacy and community involvement, allowing individuals to take control of their own health journeys and overcome significant challenges. Offering a wide and diverse range of services, training, advocacy, and resources to the Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey areas, MHP has emerged as a trailblazer in mental health services and comprehensive support. The Well and A New Life are recovery learning centers located in Philadelphia that connect participants to natural community support, provide one-on-one counseling, and offer recovery-oriented education classes.
The Bridging the Gaps student intern developed, integrated, and led participant group sessions on wellness. The intern educated participants on maintaining their health through exercises and educational sessions on the heart, brain, lungs, skin, and mouth. Taking part in group art and music sessions, the intern emphasized the importance of self-expression and individuality in art, encouraging participants to recognize their unique artistic voices. Fostering communication and engagement within the program, the intern planned and organized an inter-program event to promote mental well-being and familiarize participants with the amenities and resources that MHP has to offer.
Margaux Games: “My BTG CHIP experience allowed me to build relationships within a community of people looking to better themselves and others. I witnessed the struggles participants went through and the injustices within healthcare. I gained valuable insight on how certain populations view the medical system and their providers with mistrust due to past experiences. I hope to integrate my knowledge of the barriers people face into my future role as a doctor. Further, I was able to relay the importance of self-care and expression through mediums such as art and music. I learned that while people may be initially scared to express themselves, they find joy in creating a finished project.”
Prevention Point Philadelphia
Harm Reduction with the Syringe Services Program at Prevention Point Philadelphia (click to view poster)
Zane MacFarlane, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
William Nguyen, Thomas Jefferson University, Sidney Kimmel Medical College
Hillary R. Bogner, MD, MSCE, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Christopher B. Renjilian, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Nicole Sage, Director of Prevention Services, Prevention Point Philadelphia
Prevention Point Philadelphia provides harm reduction services to Philadelphia and the surrounding area. Now a nonprofit public health organization, Prevention Point was started as a grassroots, underground organization in 1991 by ACT UP Philadelphia (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and distributed syringes to help reduce the transmission of HIV among people who injected drugs. After lobbying efforts led to the legalization of the possession of syringes by Mayor Ed Rendell’s executive order in 1992, Prevention Point grew into a larger organization that provides many services with a harm reduction approach, including medical care, overdose prevention education, naloxone distribution, and case management, along with housing, meals, and mail services for people facing housing instability.
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked closely with the Syringe Services Program. Activities included creating syringe supply kits and wound care materials for distribution, brainstorming and developing additional strategies for delivering wound care resources, helping other volunteers learn how to participate with SSP, and meeting with participants during exchanges to provide them with materials and services that met their needs. The interns had the opportunity to talk to participants during syringe exchanges, provide them with supplies they requested, and help guide participants to additional services at Prevention Point if wanted. The summer provided an excellent opportunity for the BTG interns to learn and practice harm reduction principles while also engaging with and listening to community members longitudinally.
Zane MacFarlane and William Nguyen: “Over the summer, we had the opportunity to work for the Syringe Services Program at Prevention Point and learn firsthand how harm reduction operates. On a technical level, we learned from the SSP team and directly from participants about their various supply needs as well as the challenging nature of managing xylazine-associated wounds. One of our greatest takeaways was witnessing the incredible compassion and support the staff provides for participants day in and day out through their services and conversations. The harm reduction services and staff at Prevention Point empower participants who often feel stigmatized by society and meet their needs wherever they are. It is a model and therapeutic approach we will be thinking about and hoping to practice as we advance in our medical careers.”