By Katinka Podmaniczky

Jan Quiram is the Public Health Commission’s associate director for the Addictions Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Support Services Bureau, and today she is receiving a Provider Recognition Award for Program Leadership from the Association for Behavioral Healthcare. The award recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to community-based behavioral healthcare, and Jan certainly deserves this recognition.

I got to talk with her this week to find out a little more about what she does and why she loves her job so much.

At the Public Health Commission, Jan manages two substance abuse outpatient clinics; AHOPE, the needle exchange and overdose prevention program; an acupuncture clinic; and 16 neighborhood coalitions that work on overdose prevention, reducing underage drinking and other prevention efforts; as well as assisting bureau director Rita Nieves with oversight of all bureau programs and initiatives. As our executive director Dr. Barbara Ferrer noted, “Jan’s work has enabled the Commission to expand our prevention work with neighborhood coalitions and improve access to culturally relevant services for men of color while increasing productivity and opportunities for professional development among staff.” She also coordinates bureau-wide performance management, administrative and financial work with the bureau administrator, including liaison to property management, security and contracting, procurement, and working with the bureau’s vendors and fiscal agents.

When I asked Jan what she liked about working for the Public Health Commission, she told me that she has spent her career working with poor, high-risk populations, like people coming out of prison and other institutions. “I do that here – work with people who cannot easily access services in other places, who are poor, marginalized, and traumatized,” she said.

She is proud that BPHC takes a broader viewer of the world of public health. “We do things here that people don’t think about doing in other cities,” she told me. What are those things? “Well, for one, that means providing services to the most vulnerable populations in Boston in the languages that they speak, by people who look like them and understand where they are coming from.” (Jan is bilingual herself and bureau staff work in three languages.) She added that, “We also provide innovative services such as Narcan training for first responders, police, and bystanders, which can reverse opiod overdoses.”

But it seems like her favorite thing about working at the Commission are the people she gets to work with. “They teach me something every day,” she said. “They are a tremendous team that is smart, keeps us honest, and is really good at what they do. The city is very lucky to have them.”

Katinka Podmaniczky is the assistant communications director for the Public Health Commission. Learn more about the Addictions Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Support Services Bureau here and get connected to services here.