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Alum Assisting an Underserved Population in Substance Abuse Battle

January 13, 2021
Anthony Paredes
Anthony Paredes, MSN ’20, is running a clinic at Casa Esperanza Conexiones, the state’s only bilingual/bicultural clinical stabilization services program that assists people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

Anthony Paredes knows from experience the benefits of providing high-quality health care to underserved communities. That’s why he is focusing his early career as a nurse practitioner on helping Spanish-speaking people who have substance abuse disorders. 

Parades, a first-generation college student who graduated from the MGH Institute in 2020 with a Master of Science in Nursing, grew up in a Spanish-speaking household, where he would regularly translate for his parents and grandparents. As an undergraduate student at Syracuse University, he worked at a neighborhood health clinic whose patients primarily were under-insured and/or non-English-speaking immigrants. “I realized then that I wanted to help people in underserved communities,” he said. 

During his three-year education at the IHP, Paredes kept that goal in mind. That’s why he was drawn to working at Casa Esperanza Conexiones, the state’s only bilingual/bicultural clinical stabilization services program that assists people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. After more than a year working there as a part-time RN, he was hired as a full-time nurse practitioner after graduation. He quickly created a walk-in clinic at the nonprofit’s Tewksbury Hospital facility. 

“There’s such a need to assist this population because of language barriers,” said Paredes. “I’m a big believer in second chances and giving people opportunities to turn their lives around.” 

While the death rate from opioid-related overdoses in Massachusetts has flattened over the past three years, the state’s Department of Public Health reports over 2,000 such deaths each year since 2016—more than twice as many as in 2013.  

To help address this issue, almost 450 MGH Institute students in the MSN and Master of Physician Assistant Studies programs received an additional 24 hours of training over the past three years through a grant funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Dr. Susan Stevens, an assistant professor of nursing, is principal investigator, who, with Jason Lucey, an assistant professor of nursing, has partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital’s Addiction Consult Team to train the students. Nurse practitioner and physician assistant students who graduated in 2020, including Paredes, received a waiver from the federal government to prescribe medication-assisted treatment and overdose-reversal medications such as buprenorphine. 

In addition to treating patients at the clinic’s 32-bed unit, Paredes also recently helped the nonprofit win a $100,000 grant that provided medical equipment and will also improve handicap accessibility at the site. “We are so pleased with Anthony and his innovative approach to integrated care,” said Shannon Barrett, the program director at Casa Esperanza’s Tewksbury division. 

Parades, who was a member of the IHP’s Student Government Association, recently hired current Bachelor of Science in Nursing student Dimitri Lamisere to work at the clinic. “Anthony is very supportive of the patients and answering any questions I may have,” said Lamisere. “I’m glad that the program, Anthony, and I can make a difference to help each individual work towards getting to sobriety.”