A boisterous congrats to Agnes and we could not be more thrilled or proud of all she has accomplished for BHCHP and those we serve throughout these past 25 years. This year’s BBJ award is especially poignant with an emphasis on honoring the CFOs who have been innovative leaders during this coronavirus pandemic and the attendant financial crisis. None of us needs to be reminded of how masterful and courageous Agnes has been in shepherding BHCHP through the budgetary upheaval caused by COVID-19. We could not be more grateful, as Agnes’ tireless efforts have been inspirational, allowing us to creatively respond to our worst public health crisis since the AIDS epidemic.
Indeed, Agnes began with us in the peak of the AIDS epidemic when Boston Medical Center was still Boston City Hospital and University Hospital and Jean Yawkey Place was the Mallory Institute of Pathology and housed the City of Boston morgue. Our offices were across from the hospital on Massachusetts Avenue and our budget and staff were doubling every 2-3 years. We were way over our heads learning to work within the confines and bureaucracy of our federally qualified health center (FQHC) status. The rules were arcane and unfathomable, but Agnes joined our 3-person finance department and soon learned everything about Medicaid and Medicare. We also launched our first of three electronic health records, foisting an overwhelming challenge upon Agnes and her colleagues as she worked to connect our clinical notes to a financial structure that could capture revenue and allow us to grow. We were still only a couple of years past the opening of our cherished Barbara McInnis House in the old Stadium Manor Nursing Home near Egleston Square, and the finances of that unique facility were bewilderingly complicated and never fit easily into a sustainable funding stream. And we had continued to expand our clinics in the family and adult shelters, all of which added to our need for a stable financial foundation. And Agnes proved immense as she overwhelmed us with her competence and creativity in meeting each challenge then, and since. As a program, we have finished in the black in each of our 35 years save one, and Agnes and our Finance Department are now the envy of every HCH in the country.
Those of us who have witnessed Agnes on employee recognition day each year know well that a raging comedian lurks just beneath her CFO skills and acumen. She has kept us laughing in the most dire times and her spirit has proven indominable. Perhaps most remarkably, Agnes holds our mission foremost in her heart. Her focus has always been on caring for our society’s most vulnerable homeless and poor persons, and she strives always to give us the financial support to carry out the BHCHP mission. And we have all witnessed the joy, laughter, and sheer competence with which Agnes Leung showers us all with care. How fortunate we have been.
Please join Barry and me and our Board of Directors in congratulating Agnes for always finding ways to support our staff and the many innovations that continue to be the hallmark of the program we all cherish so much. Thank you, Agnes!!!!
Jim O'Connell, MD, President of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program