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Boston Medical Center’s Commitment to Our Community

Unwavering in our long-standing commitment to address the health needs of our community, Boston Medical Center (BMC) provides a wide range of programs beyond the traditional medical model. Core to fulfilling our public health mission and consistent with the findings of our recent Community Health Needs Assessment, the goals of our community benefits programs are to improve access to and utilization of health services, and to improve health outcomes for underserved populations in our community. 

As the largest safety net hospital in New England, BMC serves a significantly disproportionate number of low-income patients who live in our community. Approximately 73% of our patients are from underserved populations – the low-income and elderly – who rely on government payors such as Medicaid, the Health Safety Net and Medicare for their coverage.

In 2013 BMC conducted a comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment (PDF)
which included reviewing existing social, economic, and health data about residents of our community and those who are traditionally underserved; conducting focus groups with community members; and conducting key informant interviews with health care providers and community leaders. Key findings that emerged from the needs assessment included poverty, access to and utilization of health care, chronic diseases and conditions, violence, mental health and substance abuse. These findings informed our Implementation Strategy, which was approved by BMC’s Board of Trustees and will be our roadmap for the next three years.

Community Health Needs Assessment (PDF)
Implementation Strategy (PDF)

Community Benefits Programs Highlights

The Preventive Food Pantry and Demonstration Kitchen (the Pantry) address hunger-related illness and malnutrition among a low-income, largely underserved and vulnerable patient population. Individuals at risk of malnutrition are referred to the Pantry by BMC or Boston HealthNet physicians or nutritionists who provide “prescriptions” for supplemental food that best promotes physical health, prevents future illness, and facilitates recovery. Eleven years after it first opened, the Pantry now provides nutritional food prescriptions to approximately 7,000 people each month, for a total of 82,846 Greater Boston residents in FY12. Approximately 12,000 pounds of food supplies are required weekly to stock the Pantry shelves at BMC. The Demonstration Kitchen complements the work of the Preventive Food Pantry by educating patients about nutrition through cooking methods that are compatible with their medical and dietary needs, as prescribed by their physicians. Last year the Demonstration Kitchen educated 1,308 people.

The Preventive Food Pantry and Demonstration Kitchen is the proud recipient of the 2012 James W. Varnum National Quality Health Care Award, established by the Trustees of Dartmouth-Hitchcock to recognize outstanding national leaders in health care quality improvement initiatives.

The Patient Navigation Program is designed for patients with cancer and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, who need special assistance in navigating the health care system. Patient Navigators are individuals from the communities served by BMC who have special language skills, training in scheduling, and refined compassion/communication skills. Patient Navigators contact our most vulnerable patients and help them to access, in the most efficient manner possible, the doctor visits and treatments that they need. They arrange transportation for patients, remind them about the appointments they helped schedule, and they connect patients to community resources, such as the BMC Food Pantry. 

The Violence Intervention Advocacy Program (VIAP) was founded in 2006 to provide specialized services to victims of violence, using two Violence Intervention Advocates (community health workers) who provide individual counseling, triage and referral services for victims of violence brought to the BMC Emergency Department. VIAP staff collaborate with public and private agencies to offer a broad spectrum of services to patients recovering from violent injury. In FY12 VIAP provided services to a total of 499 victims: 197 gunshot victims and 302 stabbing victims. VIAP provided victims and 34 of associated families with direct services and referrals to services, including crisis intervention and stabilization, housing and transportation, legal assistance, education, vocational and life skills development, mental health, employment, and health and wellness. In addition to its presence at BMC, the VIAP model has been disseminated to two other hospitals in Massachusetts. 

The Mental Health Diversion Initiative (MHDI) is a collaboration, led by BMC’s Department of Psychiatry, that includes BMC, Boston Municipal Court Department, Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, Boston Police Department, Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Police, and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. Since 2006, the MHDI has worked with 1,100 individuals with mental illness and/or co-occurring mental health and substance dependence whose associated behavior brings them to the attention of law enforcement and the courts. MHDI collaborators identify individuals with these risk factors and then connect them with appropriate services and treatment as alternatives to arrest and incarceration.

If you have any questions or would like a paper copy of the Community Health Needs Assessment or Implementation Strategy, please contact:

Jennifer M. Fleming
Boston Medical Center
801 Massachusetts Avenue, 1st Floor
Boston, MA 02118
Call:  617.638.6927


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