Dear Colleagues & Friends,
Yesterday (May 2, 2023), we were honored to have been visited on site at our office on Benning Road NE Washington DC by SAMHSA Region III Director, Dr Jean Bennett and our DC State Opioid Response (SOR) Director, Dr Sharon Hunt. This gave us a unique 2 hour opportunity to discuss and share information on how local and national partnerships are coming together to fight “isolation,” as noted by the surgeon general, and end the mental health and substance use disorder crisis in our nation and Capitol city. Dr Hunt specifically cited the Leadership Council for Healthy Communities’ (LCHC) DC Department of Behavioral Health “Returning Citizens Grant as an example of faith community commitment to breaking the cycle of drug related recidivism. That effort is fashioned to be expanded thru an aspirational 10 year outcomes study with NIH ComPASS (Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society) bringing the advocacy of the LCHC faith community together with the Howard University College of Medicine “Urban Health Initiative,” Howard University College of Pharmacy, Georgetown University “Addiction Public Policy & Health Science” Program, and MedStar Family Choice HP.
My friend, (ret) Army Major Emmett Roberts, joined us in discussing his work in bringing veterans to the table as an untapped workforce with lived experience who we know can make tremendous contributions in connecting their peers as well other citizens to services using their vast experience in civil service and crisis organization.
Prior to our face-to-face meeting yesterday, I was introduced to Dr Bennett only virtually by Dr. Hunt beginning in January 2022 thru a series of monthly Region III (PA, DE, WV, VA, MD, DC) meetings regarding access problems to buprenorphine and pharmacy/pharmacists concerns. Dr. Bennett’s extraordinary ability in seamlessly linking frontline advocates with federal agencies culminated in a number of innovative ideas and advancements nationally including a local Howard University College of Pharmacy grant from FORE (Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts) designed to educate the entire community, reduce MOUD stigma, and improve access to MOUD medications thru evolving uniquely designed “pharmacist-physician-peer (P3) collaboration.”
Finally Dr. Bennett honored us with a “SAMHSA Coining” and a copy of “SAMHSA TIPS 63.” We will, therefore, forever remember this day as an inspiration for “why we can only do what we do in collaborative PARTNERSHIPS” and by the GRACE of GOD!”
We humbly thank SAMHSA and DC DBH for being our devoted partners in working to “End the Epidermic!”
Edwin C. Chapman, MD