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Vol. V No. 7   ·   28 September 2001 


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Striding toward inclusive health care
Boston Medical Center to hold fundraising walk, free health-care festival

By David J. Craig

On Saturday, October 13, more than 1,000 employees from Boston Medical Center and local organizations that support it will make a five-and-a-half mile hike through some of the neighborhoods that are most in need of the hospital's services. The first annual We Care Walk, which winds through Roxbury and the South End before culminating in a free health-care festival at BMC, will help the center continue to provide health care for poor and uninsured local residents.


Valerie Navy-Daniels, director of community relations at Boston Medical Center, chats with Mary Broadway (SFA'05) about participating in a fundraising walk Saturday, October 13. Proceeds of the walk will benefit BMC, which provided more than $163 million in free health-care services to uninsured residents in greater Boston last year. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky


"The purpose of this event is to celebrate the wonderful diversity of our patient population and the incredible community in which the hospital is situated," says Valerie Navy-Daniels, director of community relations at BMC. "In addition to raising funds, we want to build a sense of community by walking through our neighborhood, raise the visibility of Boston Medical Center, and highlight our mission of providing exceptional care without exception. The fact is, thousands of our grateful patients are not in a position to give back to the hospital the way patients of some hospitals can afford to do, so this is a way of trying to level the playing field a bit by reaching out to our corporate friends and some other outside agencies."

BMC, which was created in 1996 by the merger of the Boston University Medical Center and Boston City Hospital, provided more than $163 million in free care in 2000, which is more than any other hospital in the Northeast, according to Navy-Daniels. More than half of BMC's patients have an annual income of less than $16,700, and approximately half are covered by Medicaid or are uninsured. In addition, BMC hosts the city's busiest primary-care clinic serving the homeless, Health Care for the Homeless, which last year had more than 10,000 visits from homeless patients. It also runs New England's largest HIV/AIDS clinic, serving more than 1,000 patients last year, and has the most extensive interpreter service of any hospital in New England, providing on-site interpreters in at least 17 languages 24 hours a day.

Participants in the October 11 We Care Walk will raise funds to support BMC's programs, in particular those benefiting the region's poor residents. The walk will conclude with a community health and family festival on the hospital property at 840 Harrison Ave., which is open to the public. It will feature a variety of free health screenings, including hearing tests for children, acupuncture, bone-density screenings, and screenings for prostate cancer and diabetes, as well as Halloween safety tips. There also will be live music, clowns, puppeteers, and food.

Navy-Daniels, who began organizing the event last fall, says BMC is still looking for walkers to raise pledges. Student organizations and University departments are invited to take part by organizing a walking team. Participants also are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items for the center's food pantry. So far, 18 corporations and organizations, including Pioneer Investments, NSTAR, WCVB-TV, TIAA-CREF, and Suffolk Construction Company, are signed on to sponsor the event.

Tamara Sielecki, assistant vice president of TIAA-CREF, a not-for-profit financial services company that provides benefit services to BMC employees, says that in addition to her company's sponsorship of the event, most of the people in her 40-person Boston office are either walking or giving a pledge.

"We recognize that the Boston Medical Center's mission to serve its whole community irrespective of patients' ability to pay, language differences, or the particular medical needs involved puts the hospital in a special category," she says. "And that certainly makes our relationship with the hospital, and our participation in this walk, very special for us."

For more information, visit the We Care Walk Web site at or call 617-638-6910.


28 September 2001
Boston University
Office of University Relations