The 2nd Annual Nursing SUD Conference

Thursday, February 8, 2024
7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
UMASS Boston | Campus Center Ballroom
100 William T. Morrissey Blvd, Boston, MA 02125
View parking rates and information.

Presented by:
Boston Medical Center Nursing Substance Use Disorder Council

Sponsored by:
The Boston Medical Center Nursing Department

Registration is closed.

Agenda and Speakers

7:30 am – 8:00 am
8:00 am – 8:05 amWelcome Remarks
Chairs: Abby Brennan, BSN, RN, CARN & Deanna Faretra, BSN, RN-BC
8:05 am – 8:15 amIntroduction & Opening Remarks
Nancy W. Gaden, DNP, RN, NEA-BC
Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, Boston Medical Center
8:15 am – 9:00 amAddiction & SUD 101
Kristin Wason, MSN, NP-C, CARN
9:00 am – 9:45 amOverdose Response: Do you know what to do?
Tehya Johnson, MSN, AGPCNP-BC
Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program
9:45 am – 10:00 amBreak  /  "Meet our Experts" Info Tables

Best Practices for AMA/Self-Directed Discharge Among Patients with SUD
Christine Kareh, RN

Project RESPECT: Pathways to Recovery in Pregnancy
Kelley A. Saia, MD

Low Barrier Access to Care - Early Intervention, Patient Engagement & Harm Reduction
Karri Weisenthal, MD
Samantha Johnson

11:00 am – 12:00 amACS Best Practices for Withdrawal & Pain Management for Patients with SUD
Jason M. Fox, MSN, RN, ANP-BC, CARN-AP
12:00 pm - 1:00 pmLunch  /  "Meet our Experts" Info Tables
1:00 pm – 1:45 pmDe-Escalation of Patients with Trauma
Samantha Ciarocco, MSW, LICSW, LADCI 
Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program
1:45 pm – 2:30 pmImpaired Practice: How SUD Impacts Nursing Practice and the Profession of Nursing
Azure Bergeron, BSN, RN, CARN
2:30 pm – 2:45 pmBreak  /  "Meet our Experts" Info Tables

How Stimulant Use Disorder Impacts Pain Assessment in the ICU
Sarah Flavell, BSN, RN, CCRN
Kristin Wason, MSN, NP-C, CARN

Overdose Prevention Centers & Policy Advocacy for Nurses
Donna Beers, MSN, RN-BC, CARN
Adrianna Hughes, BSN, RN
3:30 pm – 4:30 pmAddiction is a Family Disease: A Panel Discussion
Moderated by Brittany Carney DNP, FNP-BC and Annie Potter NP, MSN, MPH
4:30 pm – 4:45 pmClosing Remarks & Evaluations
Colleen LaBelle, MSN, RN-BC, CARN

Accreditation Information

Boston Medical Center is approved as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Association Massachusetts, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

Participants who complete and return the evaluation and stay for the entire session will be awarded contact hours.

Getting there

  • MBTA - JFK/UMass Station or Bus Service Route 8
  • On-campus and nearby parking is available. Click here for visitor parking rates and information.
  • Shuttle buses run regularly between JFK/UMASS station and several points on campus. 

Click here for more information on visitor resources.


Donna Beers

Donna Beers, MSN, RN-BC, CARN
Donna is a 19-year veteran of Boston Medical Center and has focused her career on addiction nursing education and research. As the Associate Director of the Care Continuum Core of the NIDA-funded HEALing Communities-Massachusetts study, she works with communities across the state to implement evidence-based addiction programs to reduce opioid overdose and complete systems of care. Donna has many years of expertise in creating collaborative clinical models that rely on addiction nurses as the center of treatment delivery.


Azure Bergeron, BSN, RN, CARN
Azure is a registered nurse at Boston Medical Center with over 20 years of experience in trauma and intensive care. She is a graduate of the Grayken Addiction Nursing Fellowship program, the first Addiction Nursing fellowship of its kind in the United States, where she received specialized training in caring for patients with Substance Use Disorder (SUD), co-occurring disorders, educating individuals on harm reduction practices, and providing trauma-informed care. She was also a Clinical Care Manager in an NIH-funded trial to increase initiation and engagement in treatment for persons diagnosed with Alcohol Use Disorder in primary care settings. Azure serves as a consultant for BMC's Grayken Center for Addiction Training & Technical Assistance and has contributed to the development and delivery of continuing education programs covering topics such as the management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome in the ICU, SUD 101 for new graduate nurses, and supporting healthcare professionals who have or are experiencing SUD. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and maintains various certifications, including Certified Addictions Registered Nurse (CARN), NIH Stroke Scale Certification (NIHSSC), Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), and Trauma Nursing Core Course Certification.



Abby Brennan, BSN, RN, CARN (she/her)
Abby is a Labor and Delivery nurse at Boston Medical Center, and the inpatient lead RN for Project RESPECT, BMC’s pregnancy and post- pregnancy clinic for mothers/parents in recovery, working with parents all along the addiction spectrum, from active use through long-term recovery. She is also a nurse at Boston Healthcare for the Homeless on the harm reduction team working in the Mass & Cass area doing street outreach nursing and harm reduction. Abby completed the Grayken Addiction Nurse Fellowship program in 2021. She is the co-chair of the BMC Substance Use Disorder Council and the chairperson of the L&D SUD committee. She is board-certified in addiction nursing. She is a fierce advocate for people living with addiction, especially people living with addiction during pregnancy, and passionate about meeting people where they’re at with kindness and compassion.


Samantha Ciarocco, MSW, LICSW, LADCI 
Samantha is the Director of Trauma Services for Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program where she focuses on developing trauma-informed care and services for patients; leading initiatives to support staff who are exposed to primary, secondary and vicarious trauma; and developing an internal critical incident response team. She has created a women’s only program for female identifying community members experiencing homelessness and substance use disorders in the area of “Mass and Cass”; which creates a safe space for community building and increasing access psychosocial and patient-centered female medical resources. Sam also developed the mental health and SUDs treatment protocols for the BHCHP led Boston Hope, Boston’s medical field hospital, during COVID-19s initial surge. Prior to this role, she worked at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the Emergency Department and on the inpatient Addiction Consult Team as a clinical social worker. Her clinical areas of interest include Psychological First Aid, community building and advocacy within the unhoused populations of Boston, and Harm Reduction. She has facilitated many education events around special populations experiencing SUDs at MGH, Harvard Medical School, Boston Medical Center, and MGH Institute of Health Professionals and continues to work towards reducing the stigma and discrimination of those with SUDs through education and advocacy efforts. Samantha Ciarocco is an Ohio native and 2014 graduate of Simmons College School of Social Work where her clinical focus was the treatment of substance use disorders and trauma.


Deanna J. Faretra, BSN, RN-BC
Deanna is a Nurse Manager at Boston Medical Center for the Community Behavioral Health Center. She began her career with BMC in 2019 and has held prior roles as the Program Director for Homeless Transitions of Care and as a Registered Nurse for the Roundhouse program. She has committed her nursing career to the care of the most medically and socially complex patients with a primary focus on patients with Substance Use Disorders. Deanna also works at Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, the medical respite program “Barbara McInnes House” and as a clinical nursing instructor for several nursing programs, including Northeastern University, Emmanuel College, and Boston College. Her dedication to the care of patients with Substance Use Disorders has provided her with the experience of seeing patients at all levels of engagement within the system. Deanna’s understanding of both patient-centered approaches to care and systems knowledge provides a unique understanding of innovative ways to support complex patients. She is currently enrolled in her Masters of Nursing at Capella University and completing the Certified Addictions Nursing credentialing with the Addictions Nursing Certification Board.


Sarah Flavell, BSN, RN, CCRN
Sarah (she/her) is a registered nurse for Boston Medical Center’s Surgical-Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit. Prior to starting in critical care, she worked in correctional medicine. She accepted a position as a Grayken Addiction Nurse Fellow to further specialize in addiction medicine. She graduated with her Associates Degree in Nursing from Bunker Hill Community College in 2020 and with her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Emmanuel College in 2021 where she was inducted into the Pi Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau. She is currently enrolled at Drexel University to pursue her Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology.


Jason M. Fox, MSN, RN, ANP-BC, CARN-AP
Jason M. Fox is an adult nurse practitioner at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine. As a member of the Addiction Consult Service at BMC, Jason treats patients across all inpatient units; this includes providing withdrawal symptom management, motivational interviewing, and pharmacotherapy initiation for substance use disorders. Jason also works as a consultant educator for the Grayken Center for Addiction Training and Technical Assistance team. Outside of addiction medicine, Jason has significant experience in the primary care of homeless individuals and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Jason received his MSN in 2012 from the MGH Institute of Health Professions, where he also received a Certificate of Completion in HIV/AIDS. He is board-certified in addiction nursing by the Addictions Nursing Certification Board.


Samantha Johnson
Samantha Johnson is the Senior Manager of Public Health Disease Prevention and Navigation Programs for Boston Medical’s Infectious Disease Department and oversees a variety of public health programs, including the Boston STD Clinic and BMC’s harm reduction drop-in, Project TRUST. Samantha has worked in harm reduction and infectious disease prevention since 2014, starting as an outreach worker at Project TRUST providing harm reduction education and navigation. In addition to her front-line and management experience, she advises and supports other harm-reduction and addiction medicine programs in developing and implementing harm-reduction strategies in both clinical and community settings.


Adrianna Hughes, RN 
Adrianna has worked at BMC since January 2020, first as a medical-surgical nurse on Menino 6 East, and now as a Labor and Delivery nurse. She has been a member of the Substance Use Disorder Nursing Council since January 2022 and joined the most recent cycle of the Grayken Addiction Nursing Fellowship in August 2023.



Christine Kareh, BSN, CCRN
Chris Kareh has established a rewarding career at Boston Medical Center (BMC). She began in more than 35 years ago as a new graduate on a medical floor, then advanced to the CCU/MICU to specialize in Critical Care. She holds certification form the AACN as a Critical Care RN (CCRN). Chris Joined the BMC SUD council as a founding member and was privileged to participate and complete the Grayken Nursing Addiction Fellowship in July of 2022. Her final project, Self-Directed Discharge Among Patients With Substance Use Disorder will be presented today. Chris is able to use her personal experience and fellowship experience in her current role as a hospital-wide Resource RN to make a difference in the lives and outcomes with patients struggling with SUD.


Colleen LaBelle

Colleen LaBelle, MSN, RN-BC, CARN
Colleen is the Director of the BMC Grayken Center for Addiction Training and Technical Assistance program and the founder and Director of Boston Medical Center's OBAT Clinic. She also serves as the Program Director of many related projects, including two Opioid Addiction Treatment Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHOs) at BMC. Ms. LaBelle has over 30 years of experience treating HIV and addiction and over a decade of experience advising health care organizations on incorporating addiction treatment into their programs. She is a Massachusetts Board of Nursing member and Governor Charlie Baker's Opioid Working Task Force. In recognition of her work to improve and expand treatments for patients with addiction, Colleen is the recipient of the 2017 Betty Ford Award from the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA), the 2016 Lillian Carter Exemplary Acts in Nursing Award from Modern Healthcare and the Lillian Carter Center for Global Health & Social Responsibility at the Emory University School of Nursing, among many others. She also received an honorable mention for the Gage Award from America's Essential Hospitals in 2016. Ms. LaBelle is board certified in addiction nursing and pain management. She earned her BSN and MSN from Grand Canyon University and a Diploma in Nursing from St. Elizabeth's School of Nursing.



Phaedra Moore, BA
Phaedra Moore is a Peer Recovery Coach at Boston Medical Center in Project RESPECT, an outpatient clinic located in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, providing addiction medicine care & behavioral health support to pregnant and postpartum persons with a history of substance use disorder. Phaedra has a BA in English and is in the process of becoming a CARC/BSAS certified Recovery Coach. She is a mother who uses her lived experience with substance use disorder to help others find their own pathway to healing and recovery. Phaedra believes that with love, empathy, accountability and grit - anyone can recover from addiction and live a happier, healthier and more productive life.


Kelley Saia, MD
Dr. Saia is board-certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Addiction Medicine. She serves as the Medical Director for Project RESPECT, Substance Use Disorder in Pregnancy Treatment Program at Boston Medical Center, Boston MA, and Faculty Advisor for Boston Medical Center's Maternal Health Addiction Medicine Fellowship. She provides direct clinical care and advocacy for birthing persons with substance use disorders. Her clinical research focuses on innovations in pharmacologic treatment for substance use disorders in pregnancy and post-delivery. Her advocacy centers on promoting dignified and trauma-informed care for birthing persons with substance use disorders, health equity, and legislative action.


Jessica Taylor

Jessica Taylor, MD
Jessica is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in General Internal Medicine at the Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center and a board-certified Addiction Specialist. Her research interests include HIV prevention among people who inject drugs, HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) implementation, low-barrier substance use disorder treatment models, and overdose prevention. She is Co-Director of the Care Continuum Core for the Massachusetts site of the NIDA-funded Healing Communities Study, which aims to reduce fatal opioid overdose by 40%. Dr. Taylor is the Medical Director of Faster Paths to Treatment, Boston Medical Center’s innovative, low-barrier substance use disorder bridge clinic and the Medical Director of the Transitional Care Clinic, a bridge clinic co-located with a low-threshold, transitional housing program for people experiencing homelessness. She directs HIV Prevention Programs at BMC. Her educational roles include directing the HIV Pathway for internal medicine residents and serving as core faculty in Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine’s Addiction Medicine fellowship program.


Kristin Wason, MSN, NP-C, CARN
Kristin is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, a Nurse Practitioner at Boston Medical Center, and a Clinical Educator for Boston Medical Center's Grayken Center for Addiction Training and Technical Assistance team. In her primary role, Kristin educates and supports health care providers, and a variety of stakeholders, on best practices in the care of persons with substance use disorder(s) nationally and internationally. Kristin serves as the Director for the Grayken Addiction Nurse Fellowship program, the first addiction nurse fellowship in the United States. Kristin is an expert faculty member for the Provider Clinical Support System Exchange (PCSS-X) and has been a course instructor for DATA 2000 Waiver training since 2018, under PCSS. Kristin, has published in several peer reviewed journals and is first author of Addiction Nursing Competencies: A Comprehensive Toolkit for the Addictions Nurse. She has also co-authored and authored numerous guidelines to treat patients with substance use disorders in the outpatient setting.