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AP News

Some places have struggled to respond, watching deaths and illnesses mount. But this time, Worcester is a bright spot. City officials planned for an outbreak before it happened and used a coalition of agencies and community groups to meet homeless people where they live.

The relative success in Worcester has limited the illnesses and shown how long-term outreach to homeless people and drug users can pay dividends in times of crisis. The outbreak, which first flared in September, seems to be petering out at 58 confirmed cases.

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Worcester Telegram

“When you already have a diseased organ, adding another infection can lead to increased risk for bad outcomes” like liver failure and death, said Dr. Denise De Las Nueces, medical director of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.

To fight the outbreaks, the CDC last month took the unusual step of recommending all U.S. homeless adults get shots to prevent hepatitis A. It was the first time the agency has targeted the homeless in a routine vaccination push.

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Beacon Hill Times

This year, over 60 AmeriCorps members are serving at locations throughout the Back Bay, South End, Fenway, and Kenmore neighborhoods. The Boston Health Care for the Homeless AmeriCorps program has 13 members providing care coordination and health education to homeless individuals and families at the Pine Street Inn, St. Francis House, and the Southampton Street Shelter.

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Massachusetts Medical Society

“We got to go into BHCHP and interview patients. We would talk with them for 40 minutes, sometimes even an hour, and they would open up to us about their lives. A large proportion of those patients were dealing with OUD. Through that experience, I got a more personal look at people affected by opioids; it put a face on the problem.”

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The Boston Herald

A commission formed to develop ways to reduce the harm caused by substance use disorder has filed its final report, ending its seven-month study by recommending that Massachusetts pursue a pilot drug consumption site program to help prevent deaths from opioid overdoses.

The commission was chaired by state Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and its members included Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, state Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, and Jessie Gaeta, chief medical officer at the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, among others.

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Mass Live

A state commission charged with reviewing "harm reduction" initiatives used elsewhere with drug users is recommending a "pilot program of one or more supervised consumption sites" as part of state efforts "to combat the opioid crisis."

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Harvard Political Review

As of January 16, 2019, Edwin Chindongo is three years sober. If asked a few years earlier whether he would be able to follow a path to recovery, Chindongo might have said no. “I thought if I die, I die,” Chindongo told the HPR. That was before Chindongo met Dr. Avik Chatterjee, a physician at Boston Health Care for the Homeless, a shelter-based program at the heart of Boston’s opioid epidemic. Chatterjee helped Chindongo recover from the opioid substance use disorder he had developed following his use of prescription Percocet. Chindongo now finds himself working in the very same shelter where he once lived, helping those who see themselves as incapable or undeserving of receiving help.

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LA Times

“The idea that people froze to death is really horrible; it is a shared societal tragedy,” said Jim O’Connell, founding director of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, who researches hypothermia among homeless people.

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Beacon Hill Times

Many thanks to all our Beacon Hill neighbors who gave so generously to the recent BHCA clothing drive to benefit the work of Dr. Jim O’Connell and his patients at BHCHP. The clothes were delivered by BHCA volunteers to their Albany Street location last week, where they will be put to good use keeping our homeless population warm in these winter months. In addition, Rachel Thurlow, BHCA Director and Chair of the Cambridge Street Committee, gathered over 30 friends recently to assemble 50 winter kits filled with socks, hats, gloves and toiletries for Dr. Jim’s patients as well. Thanks to all!

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The Boston Globe

More than 1,000 people registered to walk in the third annual Winter Walk, according to organizers. The crowd gathered in Copley Plaza early Sunday morning in an effort to raise money and awareness for people experiencing homelessness.

Ari Barbanell, the event’s executive director, said the walk takes place in February to demonstrate the hardships that homeless individuals face during the winter.

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