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City Manager Appoints Administrative Opioid Working Group

The national public health emergency caused by the opioid epidemic is impacting communities across the country.  The city of Cambridge has not been spared these tragedies despite the concerted efforts by key stakeholders, clinicians and advocates to aid those who may be struggling with the gravitational pull of addiction. 

Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale has created a new working group which will review disease surveillance data, identify best practices about opioid-related prevention, intervention, and treatment activities as well as share information about the chronic nature of addiction. 

In November 2017, then Vice Mayor (now Mayor) Marc McGovern produced a report “Addressing the Opioid Epidemic in Cambridge, which was based on the work of an ad hoc committee made up of city and community partners. In that report, he identified many of the critical challenges that individuals and cities around the country are facing and offered a series of recommendations to address this crisis. 

“I want to build upon the work of Mayor McGovern and the ad hoc committee,” said City Manager Louis A. DePasquale.  “Therefore, recognizing the continued impact that the opioid crisis is having within our community, I am establishing a working group to assess the feasibility of expanding harm reduction efforts in the City of Cambridge as well as consider more innovative strategies to assist residents, students and visitors alike.”  The City Manager also noted his appreciation for the work of the advocates and service providers who have urged the City to look at all of the alternatives ways to address the opioid epidemic.

The charge of the City Manager’s Opioid Working Group is to advise the City Manager on policies and practices that address the opioid epidemic in Cambridge.  This administrative working group is designed to include a cross-section of representatives from human services, public safety, public health, and healthcare who are instrumental with overseeing the response efforts in the City as well as addressing the clinical / counseling support needed by those who may be experiencing a health crisis. 

  The Working Group will be chaired by Dr. Assaad Sayah, Chief Medical Officer, Cambridge Health Alliance and Commissioner Branville Bard, Police Commissioner, Cambridge Police Department.  The aim is to submit a report to the City Manager by October 2018  outlining specific short and long-term recommended goals that align with the City’s health improvement plan and actions that are currently underway.    

About the Cambridge City Manager’s Opioid Working Group - In response to the opioid crisis impacting Cambridge and other communities, City Manager Louis DePasquale has established a working group to assess the feasibility of expanding harm reduction efforts in the City of Cambridge.  The City Manager’s Opioid Working Group includes representatives from human services, public safety, public health, and healthcare to advise the City Manager on policies and practices to address the opioid epidemic in Cambridge. Its Members will be appointed by the City Manager with a charge to determine the most innovative strategies to address the burden of addictions and their impact on families and the broader Cambridge community. A final report outlining the recommended Cambridge Playbook on Opioids will be submitted to the City Manager for his review by October 2018. 

  • Mark Albanese, MD – Director of Adult Psychiatry and Addiction Services, Cambridge Health Alliance
  • Branville Bard – Commissioner, Cambridge Police Department (Co-Chair)
  • Lou Cherubino – Detective Sergeant, Special Investigations Unit, Cambridge Police Department
  • John Chute – Consumer Advisor
  • Steven DeMarco – Superintendent of Support Services, Cambridge Police Department
  • Mark Eisenberg, MD – Internist, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Chris Fischer, MD – Site Chief of Emergency Medicine, The Cambridge Hospital, CHA
  • Ellie Grossman, MD – Internist, Cambridge Health AllianceMeghan Hynes – Associate Director, Access Program, AIDS Action Committee
  • Claude Jacob – Chief Public Health Officer, Cambridge Public Health Department, CHA
  • Nancy Mahan – Senior Vice President, Program Services, BayCove Human Services
  • Gerard Mahoney – Acting Chief, Cambridge Fire Department
  • Mark McGovern – Director, Cambridge-Somerville Healthcare for the Homeless, CHA
  • Bill Mergendahl – CEO, ProEMS Ambulance
  • Assaad Sayah, MD – Chief Medical Officer, Cambridge Health Alliance (Co-Chair)
  • Ellen Semonoff –  Assistant City Manager Human Services, Cambridge Dept. of Human Service Programs
  • Jared Stanley –  Recovery Coach, Cambridge Police Department
  • Lydie Ultimo-Prophil  – Vice President of Addiction Services,  BayCove Human Services

Working Group Staff

  • Mary Kowalczuk –  Manager, Substance Abuse Prevention Programs, Cambridge Public Health Department, CHA
  • Tali Schiller –   Substance Use Prevention Coordinator, Cambridge Public Health Department, CHA

Page was posted on 4/24/2018 12:31 PM
Page was last modified on 2/7/2020 12:25 PM
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