Sunday, April 25, 2010
Inspired By Stories about Homeless People and Their Health Care
Last month, the Sprouts participated in a sock drive to benefit the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP). BHCHP is an organization that works to provide the highest quality health care possible for homeless people in Boston. Every year during the month of March, BHCHP collects socks for homeless people. Socks can reduce the risk of skin infections, prevent frostbite, and foster good hygiene. Socks help people stay clean, warm, and healthy. Many homeless and poor people do not have access to clean socks.
We pitched in to help homeless and needy people in Boston by collecting socks from our families and friends, at our synagogues and after-school activities, and with the help of the Brotes de Esperanza. On Saturday, April 10, we visited BHCHP to deliver the pairs of socks that people contributed when we asked for donations and to learn about how those who are homeless get medical care in Boston.
We met with Dr. Jim O’Connell who started BHCHP and has been directing the program for the 25 years since it began. He showed us around the building, which is across the street from Boston Medical Center and was used as an ambulance garage and morgue before BHCHP raised more than $40 million to rebuild it to serve the needs of these homeless patients.
We learned many things about BHCHP from Dr. Jim. Boston Health Care for the Homeless gives medical, dental and behavioral health care to homeless and poor people in Boston. They also offer health services at more than 80 homeless shelters throughout the Boston area. They run free daily walk-in clinics at their main building, and they work to educate and employ their patients.
BHCHP also devotes two of its floors in this building to hospital rooms. This is where homeless people can stay if they are too sick to live and sleep outside or in a shelter and are not able to be admitted to an actual hospital. This “hospital” has more than 100 beds where homeless people stay while they receive treatment from doctors, dentists, and therapists. All of its beds are usually occupied. It is great that this facility exists, but is not big enough. There are so many homeless people in Boston who need this kind of in-patient care; what often happens is that when someone who is very sick needs a bed here, another person who has been treated there has to leave. This can be a hard transition since many of these patients have to return to living on the street or traveling by bus to shelters.
Our trip was very inspiring. It is crazy how many homeless people suffer in our community, and it is even crazier that people don’t care about them when they get sick. As citizens of Massachusetts, the U.S.A, and even the whole planet, it is our job to make sure that homeless people -- not only in Boston, but everywhere else, too – get the basic human right of health care that they are entitled to.
It felt wonderful for us to be able to leave behind hundreds of pairs of socks that people had donated in our effort to be a part of this sock drive.
Visit www.bhchp.org for more about Boston Health Care for the Homeless.