SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The New North Citizens’ Council kicked off the Increasing Diversity and Equity in the Addiction Workforce program at their new location in Indian Orchard Friday.

The initiative is based on the belief that everyone should have equal access to culturally responsive services that are reflective of their race, orientation, disabilities and cultural and linguistic background.

Dr. Haner Hernandez, the director of this new initiative told 22News, the program staff represent a variety of cultural backgrounds to better serve those who are disproportionately impacted. “It’s not that folks who are not from our community can’t work with us, but when we do work with people who look like us, speak like us, understand our culture, we are able to share the things that we need to share in order to get better, and that’s both on the mental health side of things as well as the substance use disorder side of things as well.”

Dr. Hernandez says This program is meant to bridge that gap in health care and treatment to make sure everyone receives culturally sensitive health care.

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Melissa Torres is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2021. Follow Melissa on X @melissatorrestv and view her bio to see more of her work.