The Miriam receives $2.5M to address substance abuse by gay/bisexual men

September 21, 2018

Philip A. Chan, MD

Partnership seeks to collaborate on new initiative to serve at-risk black and Latino men

PROVIDENCE — The Miriam Hospital has received a $2.5 million federal grant to partner with Project Weber/RENEW and the Rhode Island Public Health Institute to improve substance use and mental health treatment for gay and bisexual men. The five-year grant, awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will help establish the first program in Rhode Island dedicated to providing substance use treatment services for black and Latino men, a group at high-risk for HIV. 

According to state-by-state data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Rhode Island had the ninth highest rate for drug overdose deaths in 2016. Moreover, barriers to substance use treatment disproportionately impact black and Latino men. 

“This grant offers a great opportunity to expand our substance treatment services among gay and bisexual men, especially given the concerning opioid epidemic we are facing,” said Philip A. Chan, MD, medical director of The Miriam Hospital’s STD Clinic.

Megan Pinkston-Camp, PhD, a psychologist with Lifespan Physician Group, Division of Psychiatry, and director of the Ryan White Behavioral Medicine program at The Miriam, said, “We are committed to addressing the overlapping substance use and mental health concerns by reaching out to and providing treatment in this underserved population. This new grant represents another facet of Rhode Island’s innovative approach to dealing with addiction and recovery, and builds on Project Weber/RENEW’s years of work advocating for the population of high-risk people.”

Project Weber/RENEW is a peer-based program providing harm reduction and recovery services to sex workers and high-risk men and women, including transgender people. The program has worked with clients at the intersection of substance use disorder and HIV risk for many years. The grant will enable Project Weber/RENEW to provide clinical services as well as expand its peer-based outreach and drop-in services. 

 “This support will maintain the great momentum we have gathered over the last two years since the merger between Project Weber and Project RENEW created ‘Project Weber/RENEW.’ We have expanded our capacity through a new outreach van, increased our overdose prevention efforts through naloxone distribution and collaboration with recovery partners, and grown our HIV prevention and testing services, as well as care coordination assistance, for high-risk HIV and Hepatitis C Virus positive individuals,” said Colleen Daley Ndoye, executive director of Project Weber/RENEW. 

The third partner is The Rhode Island Public Health Institute (RIPHI), which will evaluate and monitor the success of the new initiative and assist with outreach and programs. The institute is led by Amy Nunn, ScD, who has many years of experience working collaboratively with community leaders to address health disparities. 
“This opportunity draws on our core competencies in reducing health disparities. We will partner with Project Weber/Renew and the Miriam Hospital to address Rhode Island’s substance use crisis,” Nunn said. 

Richard Salit

Senior Public Relations Officer
The Miriam Hospital, Newport Hospital, Gateway Healthcare