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 MESSAGE
We hope you all are using measures to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.
People experiencing homelessness are exceptionally vulnerable to the coronavirus and its complications. Living in crowded shelters, with lack of access to sanitation, and with multiple underlying health issues, contraction and transmission of the illness can happen very quickly. BHCHP, in close collaboration with our shelter and hospital partners, the City, and the Commonwealth, has enacted a swift, comprehensive and multi-faceted COVID-19 response that continues to pivot as we learn more about this disease.
BHCHP has mobilized on the frontlines to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the most vulnerable. In a rapid shift into disaster mode, BHCHP’s emergency plan includes:
- On April 10, Boston Hope, the field hospital at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, opened its doors with a 1,000+ bed capacity for COVID-19 positive patients. We are proud partners at Boston Hope, providing clinical services under the same roof with Partners Healthcare and in cooperation with the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. BHCHP manages a 500-bed ward for our patients experiencing homelessness and Partners Healthcare manages a 500-bed ward for patients that do not require hospitalization in an acute care facility.
- Operating testing tents and mobilizing a clinical team to test patients for COVID-19 at select locations around the city,
- Transforming a floor of our 24/7 Barbara McInnis House respite program (52-bed) into a COVID-19 unit caring for people with confirmed cases of COVID-19, reducing the density at area hospitals,
- Equipping and operating a 16-bed medical tent to stem the spread of the virus and care for people who have no safe place to self- isolate while awaiting test results (our sincere thanks to Mayor Walsh and to John Fish, CEO of Suffolk Construction for building the tents within a matter of days),
- Operating a 24/7 phone hotline for shelter partners’ staff to seek advice from our clinical staff with any questions they have during this crisis,
- Partnering, advising, and learning from our shelter partners, Boston Medical Center and MGH, the City, the Commonwealth, and our sister homeless programs throughout the country on established best practices to respond to this crisis.
At the outset of this pandemic crisis, BHCHP's financial outlook was bleak, with an estimated deficit of $1 million per month. Thanks to the outpouring of generosity that we have received, this budget shortfall has been partially defrayed, but the need persists as we continue to project a significant deficit.
We are continually adapting our COVID-19 emergency plan as these unprecedented circumstances continue to evolve. BHCHP is proud and eager to bring our expertise to confront this public health crisis. We are grateful to our staff, whose courageous and skillful commitment to this effort is unwavering. We are 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.