Camden Coalition at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: How opioid policy agenda is informed by consumers and providers

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By Jon Tew

On July 23, 2018, Camden Coalition leadership and staff working on the Good Care Collaborative gave a lunchtime presentation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Princeton headquarters as a wrap-up to the Coalition’s yearlong journey as an RWJF Health Equity Learning Partner.

RWJF’s Health Equity Learning Partners opportunity grant was a unique and novel approach to meet a need identified by the Foundation as getting proximal to better understanding how to practice and operationalize process and outcomes equity in their work. The Good Care Collaborative was selected for its exemplary efforts in collaborating with consumers and their care teams to ensure that the needs and goals of those they serve help shape our policy recommendations. The Camden Coalition facilitated immersive learning exchanges, including conversations and site visits, for the foundation’s staff. The presentation focused on how the Good Care Collaborative creates a policy agenda with the needs of the community at the center, and how team building and staff engagement contribute to building a culture of health in Camden.

Two additional local organizations, 11th Street Family Health Services and Greater Newark Healthcare Coalition, also served as learning partners. Greater Newark Healthcare Coalition focused on how it co-designs with the community during program development and finds and connects a diverse set of partners. The presentation from 11th Street Family Services focused on how 11th Street uses a “we” not “me” approach to community engagement and their use of healing-based practices to confront trauma.

During a Q&A with RWJF staff and the other grantees, our CEO Kathleen Noonan described how the Coalition’s policy agenda is informed by our close partnership with local providers, consumers, and community members. She highlighted our Suboxone Gold Card pilot program, which focuses on reducing barriers to address the opioid crisis. The pilot grew out of a frustration expressed by providers whose patients were waiting unacceptably long periods of time for prior authorization before they could begin buprenorphine treatment for their opioid addictions.

After hearing these frustrations, the Camden Coalition co-designed the pilot with two longtime partners — Project H.O.P.E. and the Addiction Medicine Program at Cooper Hospital — and a leading health insurance company. Kathleen highlighted how the Coalition not only listened to the providers, but also included them in the design and implementation of the program with the goal of reducing barriers that patients and providers face in treating opioid addiction.

The Health Equity Learning Partnership opportunity grant created space for our staff to reflect on our current work and critically assess how policies can be better informed by the consumer voice and community co-design. Our Senior Director for External Affairs Natassia Rozario spoke about new tools we are working on to more systematically include voices of healthcare consumers and the community in program design, advocacy decisions, and the creation of inclusive forums for policy discussions.


About the Health Equity Learning Partners program grantees:

The Good Care Collaborative, convened by the Camden Coalition since 2014, is a diverse set of healthcare system stakeholders focused on improving New Jersey’s Medicaid program with the goal to make it a national model in delivering better care at lower costs to everyone..

The Greater Newark Healthcare Coalition in Newark, NJ is a collaborative of cross-sector decision makers working to improve quality and access to healthcare, specifically limiting disparities and other barriers that lead to poor health outcomes.

11th Street Family Health Services in Philadelphia, PA is a transdisciplinary primary care, behavioral health, dental service, and health and wellness center focused on providing comprehensive health services to the 11th Street Corridor with special attention to vulnerable people and residents of public housing units..

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