A trusting relationship between patient and doctor/clinician is the cornerstone of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program’s (BHCHP) model of care.
BHCHP provides direct care that is fully integrated within Boston’s mainstream health care system, and addresses the unique health-related needs of homeless people resulting from conditions like exposure to extreme weather, trauma, violence, chronic illnesses, persistent mental illness and substance abuse.
Primary Care Offerings
BHCHP at Mass General offers primary care each weekday in the Primary Care Urgent Access Center, and coordinates and assists with care and discharge planning for homeless patients throughout Mass General. The Barbara McInnis House provides recuperative and rehabilitative care to homeless persons who are too ill or injured to withstand the rigors of life on the streets and in homeless shelters. This innovative model fills a widening gap in the health care system for those without the safety and support of a home and family.
BHCHP’s Street Team, based out of Mass General, provides direct care in a variety of unconventional settings: under bridges, down back alleys, in abandoned cars, on park benches and street corners, and in community meals programs, overnight drop-in centers, emergency departments, detoxification units, and nursing homes. These dedicated professionals are a consistent presence on the streets, providing a continuum of care that brings people from the street corner, to the intensive care unit, to respite care, and ideally, to secure housing.
Elective Rotation for Future Physicians
In addition, BHCHP actively prepares future physicians in the art and skill of caring for homeless persons at Mass General. Primary care residents join BHCHP staff for community and street clinics during their ambulatory rotations, and spend two or four weeks with BHCHP in an elective rotation, working directly with various clinics and teams, learning firsthand about the special health care needs of homeless persons.