PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announces the appointment of Andrew R. Best, Jr., DPA, MPA, MSS, LSW, as the new director of the Division of Substance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction (SUPHR). SUPHR is a division of the Department of Health that is working to address the ongoing overdose crisis in the city. Their work is a combination of tracking public health data, innovative harm reduction interventions, and community engagement.
Although Dr. Best’s ultimate goal has always been to administer and manage public health programs, most of his work over the past eight years has been in various positions in the Philadelphia Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. His roles there provided him with extensive one-on-one interactions with victims of substance use and the homeless. Dr. Best says, “This job has helped me understand the great importance of first getting to grips with the work being done in the field before moving on to any important administrative roles.”
According to Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Frank Franklin, “Dr. Best’s administrative experience in substance use prevention and homelessness, and his excellence as a medical practitioner, clearly position him as a timely asset to strategically shape the Department’s efforts to strengthen substance use prevention capacity and expand harm reduction efforts in the city.” .
Most recently, Dr. Best served as a health program manager for the Operations Division of the Unified County Authority (SCA). In this role, Dr. Best has extensive hands-on experience with behavioral problems, which has enabled him to manage substance use prevention, early intervention, recovery support, and treatment programming, in addition to grant implementation, contract/program monitoring, and financial management for SCA.
Dr. Best received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University at a time when he wanted to serve the needs of a society at risk as a lawyer and advocate. However, as a child who had firsthand experience with those who needed help navigating the public health system due to substance abuse problems, Dr. Best felt he could better serve this community by administering and managing the programs that provide these services. . As such, he earned a Masters in Public Administration from West Chester University and became a licensed clinical social worker at the Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. He later earned a Doctorate in Public Administration from West Chester University where his thesis was comparing prescription opioid use rates and implementation dates of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs).
Dr. Best’s roots are in North Carolina, but he calls Philadelphia his home, where he remains deeply committed to working with marginalized communities to ensure adequate access to healthcare, mental health services, food, housing, and education. Dr. Best says, “We are at a turning point in history when it comes to substance use prevention and harm reduction services in Philadelphia; my goal is to make these services easily accessible and accessible to all Philadelphians.”