Boston University School of Public Health
Jim Segel, Rappaport Institute Advisory Board Chair
Office of Senator John Keenan, Vice Chair for the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery
Senator John Keenan, Massachusetts State Senate and Rappaport/Boston Urban Scholar
Description of Fellowship
Abby spent her fellowship in the office of State Senator John Keenan as the state sought passage of a comprehensive bill addressing the opioid crisis. Her primary focus was on the inclusion of language that would require emergency departments and prisons/jails to provide medications for addiction treatment and legislation authorizing a pilot harm reduction site for injection drug users to use pre-obtained drugs; evidence-based legislation that would increase access to addiction treatment and decrease the harms associated with substance use. To further this goal, she prepared talking points, briefs and a caucus presentation to inform conversations regarding the proposed legislation. She also created a detailed data brief through collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and researchers to demonstrate the burden of opioid use on individual cities and towns in the state, including multiple measures of opioid use, overdose, and HIV/Hep C rates and prevalence. She participated in meetings with other legislators and their staff, stakeholders and advocates to understand the variety of perspectives and opposition to the legislation. Further, she compiled an organized document mapping the iterations of the opioid bill from its conception by the Governor to the final version that was passed, helping to inform the staff and Senator of the bill’s progression.