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Cambridge Health Alliance's Haitian Mental Health Team Named Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver of the Year
Posted Date: 11/18/2010

(From left) Dr. Carline Jean-Baptiste, Michele Klau, Odette Argant, and Mel Schmid, members of Cambridge Health Alliance's Haitian Mental Health Team, accepted the Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award on November 16th at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

Cambridge, MA...Cambridge Health Alliance's Haitian Mental Health Team, a multidisciplinary team of caregivers who treat Haitian and Haitian-American patients in more than a half dozen communities in eastern Massachusetts, is the winner of the prestigious Schwartz Center Compassionate Caregiver Award, given by the Boston-based Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare.

Now in its twelfth year, the award recognizes the caregiver or caregiving team in Massachusetts that best personifies the mission of the Schwartz Center to "advance compassionate health care in which caregivers, patients and their families relate to one another in a way that provides hope to the patient, support to caregivers, and sustenance to the healing process."

For the past 25 years, the Haitian Mental Health Team has provided comprehensive linguistically and culturally competent mental health services to the Haitian-Creole speaking populations of Cambridge, Somerville, and surrounding communities, including individual therapy to children and adults, family therapy, psychopharmacology, and crisis intervention.

"The Haitian Mental Health Team is an extraordinary group of caregivers who have earned a reputation for creating a safe, nurturing, and compassionate space where painful stories are listened to, suffering is relieved, and psyches are healed," said Schwartz Center Executive Director Julie Rosen. "Their patients have suffered from trauma many of us can barely contemplate: dire poverty, despotic governments, torture, and the terrible earthquake of last January. We are so pleased to honor them."

"The members of the Haitian Mental Health Team completely embody our institution's commitment to caring for the most vulnerable and underserved communities," said Dennis Keefe, Cambridge Health Alliance's Chief Executive Officer. "The compassion, support, and selflessness that the team demonstrated in the aftermath of the earthquake in mobilizing support and forums for all to share their emotions exemplify what they do everyday for their patients and colleagues."

The members of the Haitian Mental Health Team are:
* Team Leader Mel Schmid, M.Div., LICSW
* Administrative Assistant Odette Argant
* Psychiatrist Astride Desrosiers, MD, MPH
* Psychologist Carline Jean-Baptiste, PhD
* Psychotherapist/Psychopharmacologist Michele Klau, RNCS

The award was presented in front of over 2000 attendees at the Schwartz Center's annual dinner on November 16th at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Approximately 100 healthcare workers were nominated for this year's award.

The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, established in 1996, is an autonomous, not-for-profit organization, which supports compassionate health care and seeks to strengthen the relationship between patients and caregivers. The Center achieves its goals through education, training and support programs. A statewide review committee composed of physicians, nurses, social workers, community health workers, and patient advocates reviewed the nominations for the award.


Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health system committed to providing high quality care in Cambridge, Somerville and Boston’s metro-north communities. CHA has expertise in primary care, specialty care and mental health/substance use services, as well as caring for diverse and complex populations. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices and the Cambridge Public Health Dept. CHA patients have seamless access to advanced care through the system’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. CHA is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate and is also affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Tufts University School of Medicine.