Over 11,000 homeless individuals are cared for by Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program each year. We are committed to ensuring that every one of these individuals has access to comprehensive health care, from preventative dental care to cancer treatment. Our clinicians, case managers, and behavioral health professionals work in more than 45 locations to deliver the highest quality health care to some of our community’s most vulnerable—and most resilient—citizens. BHCHP provides care without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, military service, national origin, immigration status, genetic information or marital status.
IMPORTANT COVID-19 UPDATE ( February 2021)
COVID-19 continues to dominate our work, as we undertake the most expansive vaccination campaign in our history. The goal is to vaccinate approximately 3,500 homeless and marginally housed individuals as well as shelter staff. It’s been a monumental effort to coordinate 26 vaccination sites, prioritize need, ensure equity, and combat hesitancy through education. We're also taking our vaccination efforts to the streets, literally, to vaccinate our patients who stay on the streets. And as we deliver second doses, which often have potentially more side effects than the initial doses, we are staffing a 24-hour hotline to answer questions about symptoms. We are also distributing “comfort kits” filled with essentials like toiletries and socks, and COVID information to show patients we care about them and educate them on the pandemic. Our staff are working late into the night in many shelters to monitor patients/guests and to offer symptom relief.
We continue to conduct COVID-19 testing at our shelter partners; care for COVID-positive patients at our medical respite facility, the Barbara McInnis House; and serve as medical consultants for our shelter partners across the city. Meanwhile, our regular clinics and services are operating in-person or virtually, depending on patient need.
At BHCHP, the past year has been one of continuous observing, assessing, deciding and responding to this novel virus. We’ve continually evolved our services, always following the science to keep our patients and staff safe. We’ve learned a lot about COVID-19 and its effects on our patients and our clinician-researchers have shared their knowledge in published articles in top medical journals.
Generous donors and government grants have enabled our program to not only continue caring for our patients’ regular needs, but also to be leaders in partnership with the city’s response to COVID-19 among homeless residents. The future is uncertain, but we are ever grateful to you, our supporters, who allow us to do this lifesaving work each and every day. Thank you!
Dr. O'Connell’s collection of stories and essays, written during thirty years of caring for homeless persons in Boston, gently illuminates the humanity and raw courage of those who struggle to survive and find meaning and hope while living on the streets.