BHCHP Blog: A View from the Bridge

Welcome to BHCHP's blog, A View from the Bridge! This is a place for us to share our work with you, our supporters, partners, neighbors and friends. Check back often for stories and updates from our patients, staff, volunteers, donors, supporters and partners, or subscribe via email below.

Transgender health care is considered an emerging field, but at BHCHP it has been part of our practice since 2008, when nurse Pam Klein launched a pilot program based on her experience working in transgender health in San Francisco. Among other services, we offer primary and urgent care, behavioral health, a support group, and hormone replacement therapy at our South End location, and we connect patients to Boston Medical Center (BMC) for medical/surgical services as needed. We also offer services at several of our other locations such as Pine Street Inn, Bridge over Troubled Waters, and the New England Center and Home for Veterans.

A new community outreach initiative spearheaded by The Kraft Center for Community Health at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) seeks to better engage with individuals struggling with addiction and complex health conditions who are not well connected to health care services. CareZone, a mobile health van, is being funded by The Kraft Center for Community Health and brings together collaborators from GE Foundation, Ford Motor Company, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) and the Boston Public Health Commission’s harm reduction and needle exchange site, AHOPE.

Our BHCHP’s enthusiastic Emerging Leaders Board (ELB) is excited for their third year and have planned lots of engaging educational, social and networking events open to all of Boston’s young professionals.

Our relationships with Boston Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital are unique in the country, and distinguish BHCHP from all of the other 250 health care for the homeless programs across the country. By sharing our mission, these academic teaching hospitals have incorporated our health care of homeless persons into the fabric of their own daily clinical mission to assure excellence in the care of our most vulnerable neighbors. The quiet legacy of BMC and MGH, two world-class institutions, to serve our patients is a truly singular commitment that has withstood the test.

Winter in New England poses many challenges to us all, but as you might imagine, cold weather is a particularly intense threat for our patients here at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. As the nights grow longer and the temperature drops, our patients are especially at risk. So what are we doing to prepare our patients and what can you do to help?

When people think of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, they typically consider our medical or behavioral health work on the street or in over 40 shelter or hospital locations in Boston. Case management is one of the vital parts of our work that focuses on supporting the important social circumstances of our patients, which can be critical to their overall good health.

BHCHP has participated in planning Boston’s Transgender Day of Remembrance event for the past six years and this year sponsored the event as well. This year, BHCHP hosted our own Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) event for the first time. TDOR is a global, annual event to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

These days, if you wander into Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program’s headquarters on what used to be a quiet Saturday morning, the main lobby is buzzing with activity. Tables decked out in purple tablecloths offer health information and related giveaways. Women of all ages are chatting, sipping coffee, doing crafts, getting hand massages and acupuncture treatments, watching movies and playing a BINGO game that imparts lessons about women’s health between shouts of “BINGO!” Beyond the lobby, in exam rooms, women are seeing providers for their medical and behavioral health issues or case managers for any number of non-medical needs. It’s a health fair, coffee talk, crafting session and walk-in clinic, all rolled into one. Welcome to HER Saturday, the foundation of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program’s Women’s Health Initiative. HER stands for Health. Empowerment. Resources.

By Mike Bradley

I learned about Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) by chance, listening to the radio while driving to work about six years ago. A reporter was interviewing a Boston doctor, Jim O’Connell, who had dedicated his career to serving the homeless on the streets of Boston.

When I got to work that morning I made a contribution to BHCHP  – how could I not back that story?

An important part of honoring our patients is sharing the story of our work with the world. We hope that you will enjoy getting to know more of our patients, as well as the hardworking staff who deliver this high-quality, compassionate care every day.