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Healing Justice: Incarceration, the Pandemic, and Public Health

March 30, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

See video below


Leir Institute Event Series

Intersecting Pandemics: Detention and Work in Times of COVID

A Conversation with Dr. Aakash Shah – Healing Justice: Incarceration, the Pandemic, and Public Health

March 30, 2021 | 12:00pm Eastern

Join the Leir Institute in a conversation with Dr. Aakash Shah. Q&A to follow.

Aakash Shah is a practicing addiction and emergency medicine doctor at Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH) who works at the intersection of criminal justice and healthcare reform. His focus is on building programs predicated on the understanding that, for far too many caught in the maw of our criminal justice system, the ultimate manifestation of justice is treatment not punishment.

He currently serves as the Director of Addiction Medicine and the Medical Director of Project HEAL (a hospital-based violence intervention program) at Jersey Shore University Medical Center (JSUMC). He also serves as the Medical Director of New Jersey Reentry Corporation (NJRC) where he provides guidance on initiatives to better meet the healthcare needs of the justice-involved population. His work has resulted in several statewide policy and programmatic reforms (including the elimination of prior authorization requirements for medications for addiction treatment) as well as received the bipartisan endorsement of five former New Jersey Governors, several local editorial boards, and major healthcare systems.

Prior to his work with HMH and NJRC, Aakash was the Founder and Executive Director of Be Jersey Strong, which trained students to serve as community health workers. During the third open enrollment period, Be Jersey Strong recruited over 500 students – two-thirds of whom spoke a second language with over 50 languages represented – from over 20 campuses to help inform New Jerseyans of their options for coverage. The initiative represented one of the largest and most diverse efforts to connect the insured to coverage in the nation and was honored by then President Barack Obama at the White House for its impact.

Aakash has assisted the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force on Healthcare, staffed the health policy transition committee for Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey, served on the health policy councils of three gubernatorial campaigns, and advised the New Jersey Senate Majority Leader and members of the United States House of Representatives. In these roles, his portfolio has included initiatives to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, combat the opioid crisis, determine the health impact of burn pit exposure during military service, expand paid family leave, secure financing for women’s health, establish Medicaid Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), and implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

He has conducted original research in these areas at Rutgers University, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Oxford University. He is the author of several peer-reviewed publications, op-eds, and policy reports as well as the anthology The Soul of a Patient. He has secured over $3.5 million dollars in federal, state, and philanthropic funding to date.

He obtained his MD from Harvard Medical School. He completed his MBA and MSc in Comparative Social Policy from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He received his BA and BS from Ursinus College. He currently serves on the board of trustees for Integrity House, the New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition, and Ursinus College, and previously served on the executive board of New Leaders Council – New Jersey.


March 30, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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