Medicine that Matters

Medicine that Matters

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 35 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.



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As the number of vaccinated people in Massachusetts rises, infections among our patients are few and far between. In fact, there have been many weeks with no infections at all. Things are beginning to return to some semblance of normal across our many programs, although we continue to do bi-weekly random testing at several of the city’s largest shelters to detect infection outbreaks early. We also provide on-demand testing for symptomatic patients. We are grateful that, after nearly a year and a half of uncertainty, fear, and round the clock commitment from our staff, we can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. Our vigilance around COVID-19 will not stop, but we are grateful to continue to provide exemplary care for the myriad of other critical health issues our patients face.

Overall, pandemic safety protocols have been relaxed, but they have not been eliminated. For example, we are still doing symptom screening before patients enter our clinics, masking remains mandatory, and social distancing — with reduced distances — remains.

Our clinics have opened their doors to in-patient visits, although we are continuing to offer virtual visits — via telephone or video— because it improves accessibility for our patients.

At the request of the state, we were charged with vaccinating all of Boston’s unsheltered population. We are proud of our vaccination efforts, the most expansive vaccination campaign in our history. We coordinated vaccination sites, prioritized need, and addressed hesitancy through education. Ensuring equity in our vaccination efforts was a top priority. Although our mass vaccination efforts have concluded, we still are providing vaccinations to those who request it.

Through the end of June:

  • We have administered 8,208 doses of vaccine to our patients, our staff, and employees of our shelter partners.
  • We've traveled to 40 sites to accomplish this.
  • An impressive 95% of BHCHP’s patient-facing staff have been vaccinated.
  • We have performed COVID-19 testing on 4,465 unique patients since the start of the pandemic.
  • 16,749 tests have been performed altogether (meaning some patients have been tested multiple times).    

The past year has been one of continuous observing, assessing, decision-making, 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.

Please view our video below that includes insights from various staff and members of our community about our ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It truly underscores the power of our community during this turbulent and unprecedented time. We remain grateful for our BHCHP community of donors, shelter and hospital partners, city and state government, and advocates for their steadfast support in helping us care for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Thank you!

To read more about our work around our COVID-19 Response efforts, click hereThank you.


Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor
by James O'Connell, MD


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.

Learn more about the book.


Latest News

BHCHP's recommended action for Atkinson Street. 

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We had nearly 200 registrants and raised nearly $185,000 during our 2021 virtual Emerging Leaders Board Fall Soiree! We are so grateful for our generous event supporters! From the honeyed tones of our vocal talent, Naledi Masilo to the award-winning movement of the dancers from Urbanity and the brassy melodies from the Eli Heath Trio, it was an inspiring evening. We are grateful for Erika Tarantal from WCVB Channel 5 for her engaging emceeing and for imbuing the evening with her generous spirit and love for our patients.

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The program’s leadership and staff began a robust screening and testing regimen at all Boston area shelters and locations where it provides care, and drew on its deep experience in contact-tracing a population that is constantly on the move.

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Thank You To Our Leadership Team