Overdose is the leading cause of death among people served by BHCHP and alarmingly, opioids were implicated in 81% of overdose deaths in a study of mortality among homeless people served between 2003 and 2008.
In response to the to the city’s increase in opioid overdoses, which are magnified among people experiencing homelessness, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) has implemented a program called Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment (SPOT). The SPOT offers engagement, support, medical monitoring, and serves as an entry way to primary care and treatment on demand for 8-10 individuals at a time who are over-sedated from the use of substances and who would otherwise be outside on a street corner, alleyway, or alone in a public bathroom, at high risk of overdose. In the first four months of SPOT’s opening, the program has cared for nearly 200 individuals in over 800 different encounters.
While the immediate goal is to reduce the harm associated with use of opioids and other substances in a population who lacks stable housing and supports, our ultimate goal is to help medically-complex individuals gain access treatment for substance use disorders on demand, including medication-assisted therapies or detoxification. BHCHP will continuously evaluate the positive effect of the SPOT on these individuals and the surrounding community.
To learn more about SPOT, the opioid crisis, and what BHCHP is doing to help, read Health Affair's "Providing A Safe Space And Medical Monitoring To Prevent Overdose Deaths," written by CEO Barry Bock, CMO Dr. Jessie Gaeta, and Senior Health Policy Advisor Mary Takach. You can also watch National Health Care for the Homeless Council’s webinar “The SPOT: Boston’s New Harm Reduction Program for Opioid Users Forges New Ground,” featuring Barry Bock, Dr. Jessie Gaeta, and CAB Chair Joanne Guarino, as well as AHOPE Director Sarah Mackin.