Whittier Street Health Center Strengthens Its Capacity to Address Health Equity: Strengthening Its Social Services Leadership Team and Programs to Address Systemic Racism and the Social Determinants of Health
To proactively address issues of systemic racism which have been exacerbated by the current COVID-19 pandemic for historically marginalized and vulnerable populations, Whittier Street Health Center has expanded its Programs and Social Services Department to highlight the organization’s commitment to promoting wellness and eliminating health disparities and social inequities. The culturally diverse team and culturally sensitive and compassionate services is being spearheaded by Christine Pajarillo, LICSW, who joined Whittier in 2005.
Pajarillo has been named the Vice President of Programs and Social Services. “Christine Pajarillo is a gifted and compassionate caregiver and leader who consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty to implement and lead high quality and culturally sensitive programs and social services to improve the overall health and well-being of our diverse patient population,” said Frederica M. Williams. “During the 15 years that she has served our patients, I have been pleased with her commitment and grateful for her service.”
Pajarillo’s extensive experience in the treatment of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in women informed her work as the clinical lead of the Boston Public Health Commission funded Roxbury Neighborhood Trauma Team, and in the development and implementation of Whittier’s Mom’s Do Care Program, which provides wrap-around recovery support for pregnant or parenting women with opioid use disorder. Under Pajarillo’s leadership, in 2018, the Crossroads Group, Inc. recognized Whittier as having the top-scoring Behavioral Health service in their nationwide database in terms of overall patient satisfaction among organizations using the same standardized questionnaire and methodology. Help.org has named Whittier Street Health Center as one of the Best Drug & Alcohol Rehab and Treatment Centers in Danvers because of Whittier’s exemplary level of care. Pajarillo is a graduate of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. She received her MSW from Simmons Graduate School of Social Work in Boston in 2001.
“For years, Whittier has been more than a health center, it’s been a resource for food, support and advocacy for our patients. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the social and economic factors in Roxbury that have been contributing to poor health outcomes in our patients for far too long. Now, more than ever, we recognize our responsibility to strengthen our efforts to expand services to bring healing and health to the community,” said Pajarillo. The expansion of the Programs of Social Services Department, brings Behavioral Health, Youth Services, Infectious Disease and Special Populations, WIC, Nutrition, Food Pantry, Community Garden, Fitness Center, Community Outreach, Support and Education and the Department of Children and Families funded Lower Roxbury Coalition under its umbrella of services. With plans to grow its Food Pantry into a Community Nutrition Program, Behavioral Health groups focused on trauma support for brown and black people, and programming to address the increase in HIV in persons who inject drugs (PWID).
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