Dr. James O’Connell, President of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, contributed this op-ed as part of our Special Series on Addiction and Homelessness. Dr. O’Connell is the author of Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor.

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North End Waterfront

The growing opioid epidemic continues to devastate many families each day in the Commonwealth. The following programs seek to assist those struggling with addiction.

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Athena Insight

Transitional care from hospital to home is especially challenging when patients have no home. Shelters for homeless people often have a shortage of beds, are not prepared to care for post-acute patients, and often require that clients leave for the day. The result is that recently discharged homeless patients are often readmitted in a cycle of costly, ineffective care.

In 1985, the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) set aside 25 beds at a local shelter for homeless patients needing transitional care. The essential need for the service led BHCHP to the establish Barbara McInnis House in 1993, named for a beloved registered nurse who dedicated decades to caring for Boston's homeless population.

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Kraft CareZONE van boston globe credit: Michael Dwyer/Associated Press/File 2017
The Boston Globe

Another prominent Boston-area business leader is stepping up to address the state’s opioid crisis.

The Kraft Center for Community Health at Massachusetts General Hospital — funded by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and his family’s charitable foundation — on Tuesday rolled out a specially equipped mobile van, dubbed CareZone, to bring health services to Boston residents who are struggling with addiction. The van will rotate between two locations in the city, one in the Dudley Square area and the other close to North Station.

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft CareZONE mobile health van ribbon cutting
New England Patriots

The Kraft family attended the unveiling of CareZONE, which is a mobile health center that will be going out into the community to help serve those who need it most.

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 Kraft CareZone ribbon cutting
The Kraft Center of Community Health

Nearly every Boston neighborhood has been affected by the national opioid epidemic and in Boston, overdose deaths have almost tripled in the last five years.  In January 2018, The Kraft Center for Community Health at Massachusetts General Hospital unveiled CareZONE, a mobile health van aimed at better engaging individuals struggling with addiction and complex health conditions to deliver on-demand services and linkages to community health centers who can provide ongoing care.

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Boston Medical Center
Bay State Banner

Boston Medical Center announced this month a $6.5 million investment initiative to support affordable housing in the city and track how health care systems can reduce medical costs for families by improving housing security and community health over a five-year period.

These investments include $1 million to Pine Street Inn and the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program to create a housing stabilization program; a $1 million no-interest loan and $400,000 operating subsidy to support a new healthy food market in a new housing development in Roxbury; and $800,000 over four years to rehabilitate 35 units of Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation’s housing for individuals with mental health issues on Waldeck Street in Fields Corner.

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RIZE Massachusetts

RIZE Massachusetts (RIZE), a state-wide philanthropic initiative, chose six organizations from a broad pool of applicants to receive $50,000 design grants for its inaugural Saving Lives, Improving Health: Redesigning Opioid Use Disorder Care program.

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The Boston Globe

Dr. Jennifer Brody, director of HIV services for the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, speaks about the uptick in HIV rates among those injecting drugs.

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Modern Healthcare

$1 million is slated to go toward the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program to help individuals with complex medical problems maintain their housing.

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