Q&A with Dr. Adrienne Trustman
Meet our new Chief Medical Officer!
Over the last four months, we searched far and wide for a new medical leader. We wanted strong community health center experience and the demonstrated ability to work effectively with people experiencing homelessness. We wanted someone who shares our values and our pursuit of social justice. We wanted someone data-driven and committed to advancing high-quality, integrated clinical care. We wanted someone who leads by listening well. Ultimately, we discovered that this person was in our midst all along.
Q: You have been our VP of Medicine for the last three and a half years. Why did you apply to become Chief Medical Officer (CMO)?
I am very much a primary care provider in my heart, so when Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman (our former Chief Health Officer) left and his position was split into Chief Medical Officer and Chief Behavioral Health Officer, I thought, “That’s a job I could do!”
Q: What are you excited about?
The majority of my VP role has been overseeing medical services at Fallsway. I’m excited to take a step back and learn how we do things across the agency. I’ve been a primary care provider for 500 clients, and now, as CMO I get to think about the primary care needs of 9,000 clients. That part is really exciting.
Q: What’s your approach to the CMO role?
While I’ll have external obligations that will call on me to represent the agency, I really enjoy focusing on the actual care—what’s getting in the way, and how we remove roadblocks and improve client access. I consider the people doing the work as the experts, so I want to hear their input on what is making a difference.
Q: How will you transition your time in the clinic?
I’m planning to spend 16 hours/week of clinical time between Baltimore County, West Baltimore, Fallsway and the Convalescent Care Program—until July. It’ll be a great way to get to know the staff and the individual needs of each site. I'll be working with my Executive Team colleagues on the next steps for the Yellow Team, my care team since the beginning!
Q: What was your path to Health Care for the Homeless?
I went to Goucher College in Towson, and I did not get into medical school the first time I applied. Instead, I did two years of AmeriCorps in Baltimore—one year as a first grade teacher’s assistant at what used to be General Wolfe Elementary and the second as a kind of Community Health Worker in West Baltimore. When I went to medical school, I was shocked by residents’ disinterest in thinking about what people really needed to address their health. This led me to working in Federally Qualified Health Centers for seven years after residency—and ultimately to Health Care for the Homeless in June of 2015.
Q: What keeps you here at Health Care for the Homeless?
Our patient population gets sicker earlier and more frequently. They’ve often been treated poorly by standard health care providers and need to have a safe place to go. I think we have the best mission here and the most demonstrated commitment to that mission. That’s what keeps me here.
Q: How will you celebrate your promotion?
A babysitter—and a nice dinner out (when I’m not on call).
Q: Anything else you'd like to share?
My start date as CMO is Monday, February 3. I’m hopeful that, even though I now have "Chief" in my title, my staff colleagues won’t feel a need to treat me differently. I’ll still do suboxone refills any time you need!