BHCHP Summer Zoom Series - July 22- BHCHP Disease Sleuths: How BHCHP is Always on the Frontlines of Boston’s Public Health

BHCHP Disease Sleuths: How BHCHP is Always on the Frontlines of Boston’s Public Health

Denise De Las Nueces, MD, MPH/Travis P. Baggett, MD, MPH, 


Tuesday, July 22, 2020 @ 11 am ET

Infectious diseases often flourish among people experiencing homelessness. Many live in crowded and poorly ventilated shelters and lack regular access to bathrooms to wash their hands. Underlying medical issues make them even more vulnerable. When the coronavirus pandemic hit Boston, BHCHP clinicians feared it would spread like wildfire among the unsheltered population. The reality was more nuanced.

In recent years, BHCHP has responded nimbly and creatively to disease outbreaks, including meningococcus and hepatitis A. Experience gleaned from those outbreaks, along with BHCHP’s long-standing collaboration with shelters, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, set us up for success in controlling the spread of COVID-19 among our unsheltered patients.

In this presentation, Dr. De Las Nueces and Dr. Baggett will talk about their disease detective work, including:

  • The epidemiology of outbreaks and how public health experts determine who is sick, how the disease expresses itself, where and how patients are exposed, and how to control the infection’s spread
  • Our experience with earlier outbreaks as well as with COVID-19 — and some of the biggest surprises and greatest challenges with the current pandemic

Denise De Las Nueces, MD, MPH, is a board-certified internal medicine physician with a focus on vulnerable populations. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University and subsequently studied at Harvard Medical School, where she received an MD in 2008. She trained at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Internal Medicine Residency Program from 2008 to 2011. Upon completion of residency training, Dr. De Las Nueces was granted a Commonwealth Fund Mongan Fellowship in Minority Health Policy, completing a Master of Public Health degree in Health Policy from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2012. She joined the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) in 2012. Dr. De Las Nueces was recognized in 2014 as one of Boston’s Top 40 under 40 Leaders by the Boston Business Journal and received a 40 Under 40 Leaders in Health Award in 2018 from the National Minority Quality Forum.  She now serves as Medical Director of BHCHP and is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

Travis P. Baggett, MD, MPH is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, a Physician-Investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Director of Research at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. His research focuses on the health of people experiencing homelessness and has been supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society. He is the MGH Site Director of the Harvard General Internal Medicine research fellowship. Board certified in Internal Medicine and Addiction Medicine, he practices primary care at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, where his clinical focus is on the care of homeless individuals with serious mental illnesses.