Harbor Health Services, Inc. Wellness Program Manager Addresses Opioid Crisis at Boston City Council Meeting

Michelle Aceto

Michelle Aceto, CARN, joined a panel of experts at the Boston City Council’s Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery to discuss the current opioid crisis in Massachusetts. “As a society, I believe we have to look at this not only as something that affects others but all of us,” she explained to the Committee. Aceto was joined by John McGahan, President and CEO of the Gavin Foundation, and Maryanne Frangules, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR) during the panel discussion.

Lack of funding, training for providers and the negative stigma associated with opioid abuse were cited as key barriers for success in addressing the overall problem. “If we have a diabetic come into our office, we don’t kick them out if they have high blood sugar. We don’t call them dirty, and we don’t call them clean. And we don’t call them food addicts, and that’s what we are doing to our patients.” At Harbor Health, Aceto is conducting monthly provider education meetings on substance abuse treatment. The meetings also the SCOPE of Pain Training, which was developed by the Boston University School of Medicine, for health care providers to become more knowledgeable of and comfortable with safe opioid prescribing.

Aceto oversees the Wellness Program, which  is an Office Based Addiction Treatment (OBAT) using Suboxone and Vivitrol program at Harbor Health Services, Inc. The comprehensive program is nurse managed and works closely with Medical Providers, Behavioral Health Providers and Case Managers to ensure continuity of care. For patients interested in the program, please call the Wellness Team Hotline at 508- 778-5469.

Watch the City Council Committee on Homelessness, Mental Health & Recovery Panel (Michelle Aceto at 1:56):




Dental Emergency Room Visits Double


According to the American Dental Association (ADA), visits to the emergency room (ER) for dental-related issues nearly doubled from 2000 to 2010. The ADA estimates that “up to 79 percent of dental ED visits could be diverted to community settings.” A visit to the ER is expensive and will not offer comprehensive care such as follow-up services or access to an on-site pharmacy. By scheduling regular appointments with a dentist, individuals can ensure that oral health problems are found sooner rather than later, which can save patients money in the long room.

However, if you need to see a dentist and can’t wait to make an appointment, our community health centers provide Urgent Dental Care. Individuals are welcome to walk-in with no appointment neccessary. We provide dental services for the following Massachusetts communities and their neighbors:

Learn more about our Massachusetts health centers by visiting us at www.hhsi.us



Emergency Department Use for Dental Conditions Continues to Increase http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/HPI/Files/HPIBrief_0415_2.ashx

Fear of Travel: Notes from a “Dangerous” Vacation


Anxiety has infinite aspects.   There is the daily undercurrent of anxious thoughts in their vast variety, with which we all must cope (some of us much better than others), and there is fear.  Fear can be more problematic, being anxiety amped up a few levels in our primal circuits.  Fear can stop us;   this is called behavioral avoidance, and can become very problematic.  One avoids people.  Or flying in airplanes.   Or going back to school, or any attempt at accomplishment where there is a chance one might fail.  And there is travel outside one’s comfort zone. 

Most American travelers, certainly vacationers, have no use for fear, sticking to the better known traditional places, Cape Cod or Vegas or Europe or a cruise somewhere.  As for travel to less prosperous parts of the so-called “developing” world, which in the Western Hemisphere means much of Latin America, most who travel there at all often think in terms of protected resort communities, Cancun in Mexico probably being the most well-known example.   Or there is Roatan, in Honduras.  Your BH consultant just spent some time in Honduras, but not in Roatan, as the focus was nature:  birds and plants and insects and reptiles and monkeys, which are richly abundant in the countryside, not so much on the beaches of Roatan.  Of course, it is after plans are made and the money is paid that darker realization can set in, in the case of Honduras inspired by historical facts and too much media.  Discomforting facts, such as the well-publicized movement of thousands of Honduran refugees, along with Guatamalans and Salvadorans, many of them children, fleeing the violence of the big cities of their homelands.  Or that Honduras currently has the highest murder rate in the hemisphere, along with the second lowest per-capita income, followed only by Haiti.  Then the news of the Zika virus.   Then the report of the indigenous Honduran woman, a well-known spokesperson for native rights, getting murdered by a death squad. 

Honduras as a vacation destination?  The travel company has run nature trips there for 15 years, the American guide went there with the Peace Corps in the 90s and fell in love with the place.   He has never moved back.  Overcoming fear usually involves some kind of leap of faith;   we took the leap (it turns out nobody else had signed up for this “group trip”) and found a country as blessed by nature as the brochure had promised.  Also visibly impoverished, where malnutrition and sanitation are the biggest public health problems;  there is a national health service but access requires that one travel to a major city.  Most people were getting by, some better than others, but in the countryside nothing close to American prosperity.   Our guide, fanatical about the natural world that still exists there but also in love with the country and its people, was very clear about the fact that Hondurans, for the most part, do not live in fear for their lives, a fact underscored by the many we encountered.  It may be very different in the desperate slums of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, but one could make a similar claim about the south side of Chicago, or (at least until recently) the Lenox Street project right here in Boston.  You don’t hear much about folks being afraid to visit America.  Unfortunately, the media has long known that fear is a product that sells, which is unfortunate for places like Honduras and others like it in too much of the world.  

John Dabrowski,   LICSW
Neponset Health Center
Geiger Gibson Community Health Center

Fresh Truck Schedule at Harbor

Starting April 27th, the Fresh Truck will be making stops at Geiger Gibson Community Health Center and Neponset Health Center every Wednesday! The Fresh Truck is a mobile food market that sells fruits, vegetables, and herbs from a converted school bus. With each stop the Fresh Truck makes, community  gains access to affordable and nutritious foods. 

Check out the schedule below and plan your visit to one of the weekly stops at our Dorchester health centers!

Fresh Truck Public Flyer


Anger: Its Origins, Uses, and Abuses


Anger is about fear.  It’s about losing control or having no control, or being controlled by others, or by circumstances – by the universe, essentially – in a way that one cannot tolerate.  This can be as simple as getting cut off, rudely, by yet another driver who gets away with it, or being stuck in a traffic jam for the third time that day.

It can be as complex and painful as losing one’s job with no prospects for another, with all the instability this can bring not just to oneself but those one cares about.  Anger is about injustice, about thoughts on how that same universe – your world – just shouldn’t be the way it is, or how there should at least be a simple way to change it.  Anger loves simple ways.

There is a strong element of sadness at work, here – simple solutions that work tend to be rare – but the angry tend to deny this.  Anger is about not thinking too much, or at all;  it is much more about ignoring complications and nuances and involved solutions that might require time and compromise.  Anger has no patience for all that.  Anger demands a clear target and simple answers and actions.  Anger likes to punish, to show the world who’s boss.  In the moment, anger can be extremely powerful, and almost always takes control – or the semblance of control – while the world backs off, often in fear.  This control is always fleeting.

In boxing, as in many sports, a common winning strategy is to get your opponent angry, get them unthinking and unobservant and distracted, with an inflated sense of their own power – which might give you a winning opening.  In politics, you can win votes by appealing to people’s anger – to their worst fears and the sadness they deny, to their desperate need for simple answers and someone to punish, to their need to regain control (or something that resembles control), so they can restore justice to their respective universes, or at least justice as they see it.  Elections can be won in this way, but if you win, both you and the world better watch out.  The universe, as it really operates, always catches up.

John Dabrowski,  LICSW
Neponset Health Center
Geiger Gibson Community Health Center