BHCHP Summer Zoom Series - August 26 - The Impact of COVID-19 on Families Experiencing Homeless

Georgia Thomas-Diaz, LMHC/Aura Obando, MD

The Impact of COVID-19 on Families Experiencing Homeless

Wednesday, August 26, @ 11 am

In Boston, about 1,200 families are homeless at any given time. The typical family is led by a mother in her 20s with two children under the age of 5. These moms’ lives are extremely stressful and fraught with trauma from their own childhoods: in one study, 92% of them reported severe physical or sexual violence in their past.

BHCHP’s family team of medical providers, mental health clinicians, case managers and others, provides services at about a dozen family and domestic violence shelters, one Waltham hotel, two homeless youth shelters and through an outreach van focusing on teenagers living on the streets.

During the height of the pandemic, because of the risks of infection in congregate settings, some unsheltered families were sent to live with relatives or were provided with apartments. Many family team members were redeployed to focus on COVID-19 care, so unfortunately, many services were scaled back. The pandemic has been very difficult for families and unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness.

Georgia and Aura will talk about:

  • Our BHCHP family team care of young families and unaccompanied youth
  • The unique challenges of the pandemic for families experiencing homelessness
  • The changing role of the family team during the pandemic and the mixed experience of delivering care through telehealth
  • The psychological toll of the pandemic on families and unaccompanied youth with histories of trauma

Georgia Thomas-Diaz, LMHC, is the director of the family team. She is a licensed mental health counselor and a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.

She has worked in several roles at BHCHP, including as director of the HIV/STD/Hepatitis C prevention program and a mental health clinician/addiction counselor with the Office-Based Addiction Treatment (OBAT) Program.

As family team director, Georgia works closely with BHCHP’s shelter partners and healthcare and housing agencies in the Greater Boston area to address the complicated needs of families and unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness.

Georgia has an undergraduate degree in human services and a master’s degree in health/addiction and trauma — both from Cambridge College.

Aura Obando, MD, is the medical director of the family team and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. She was born in Bogo, Colombia and moved to the United States when she was 8 years old. Aura is also board certified in addiction medicine. Her primary interests lie in immigration, women’s health, childhood poverty, youth homelessness, and addiction. She received her B.S. in biology from Duke University and subsequently served in the United States Peace Corps in Paraguay. Aura received her M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and completed her residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital.

To see more of our Summer series Zoom offerings click here.