Dear Friends and Family of BHCHP,
On December 21st, we held our annual remembrance of those who have died without homes, underscoring how far we still need to go to end this national travesty. The candlelight ceremony, held in our lobby, spilled into Albany Street as an evocative moment of silence was observed by patients, staff, and friends – and echoed by programs and advocates across the country in this ritual that began decades ago following research by BHCHP and others that underscored the marked disparity in premature mortality borne by those living in shelters and on the streets.
But as Dickens intones at the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities, these are both the best and the worst of times. Beneath the tragic sadness of the loss of so many people cherished by our staff last year is a story of resilience, determination, hope, and joy. The privilege of being welcomed into the lives of those who have been given so little buoys our spirits and reminds us why we are here. We strive each day to offer the best health care to our patients, whether they are in shelters, on the streets, or fortunate enough to have found housing after long years of homelessness. Our clinics in virtually all of Boston adult and family shelters and our ground-breaking efforts to bring health care to those on Boston’s streets and in encampments are anchored by our hospital clinics at Boston Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital and complemented by our pioneering respite programs at the Barbara McInnis House and Stacy Kirkpatrick Houses. Our model has sought the highest quality and equitable care through a continuous network that integrates medical, mental, oral, and substance use disorder care.
As Barbara McInnis taught us almost 40 years ago, the care of homeless people requires presence, consistency, and the time necessary to earn the trust of those who struggle against such overwhelming odds. While we take great pride in our stewardship of our health care revenues, our ability to take time to offer such personalized care has depended entirely on your generosity throughout these years. We cannot thank you enough, and while this post-pandemic year has tested our meddle, let me share with you a few of the stunning accomplishments of our staff and patients.
- Our intrepid HIV team of nurses, doctors, social workers, case managers, outreach workers, harm reduction specialist, led by the remarkable Dr. Jennifer Brody, was highlighted in recent Boston Globe article for their ground-breaking work during the drug epidemic, especially on Mass and Cass. This team has led the country in achieving viral suppression in almost 90% of those with HIV while effectively reducing the alarming numbers of new HIV infections on Boston’s streets.
- Our Hepatitis C Team, brilliantly led by our nurse practitioner Maggie Beiser, has been so successful in addressing this epidemic that not only has Maggie been named to the Boston Business Journal’s top heath care innovators of 2023 but has also received a prestigious three-year appointment to the CDC’s and HRSA’s Advisory Committee on HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and STD Prevention and Treatment.
- Joanne Guarino, our remarkable BHCHP Board Member, was a featured speaker at Harvard Medical School’s White Coat Ceremony, and Joanne joined fellow Board Member Derek Winbush in captivating this year’s class at the Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative.
- And most recently, our Consumer Advisory Board Member Warren McGee and Barry Bock stunned the WGBH radio audience on Margery Eagan’s and Andrea Campbell’s show. Warren is also on the National Consumer Advisory Board and a fierce advocate for persons with disabilities.
- And our medical respite team has been nothing short of heroic in responding to the plethora of challenges following the COVID pandemic that have hampered our census, including the dire shortage of nursing staff that BHCHP has felt along with Boston’s hospital and health center communities.
This litany of accomplishments could continue, as I’m sure you know. We remain in awe of the dedicated clinicians, leaders, case managers, kitchen and facilities staff who work together seeking excellence each day in the care of those we all strive to serve. Thank you for joining us in this endeavor and we know that the struggle will continue.
With your help we will remain blessed and undaunted.
Jim O’Connell, MD
President & Founding Physician