Boston Medical Center Recognized for Community Outreach

in Health & Medicine, News Releases, School of Medicine
March 17th, 2006

Contact: Gina M. Digravio, 617-638-8491 | gina.digravio@bmc.org

(Boston) – The American Hospital Association (AHA) will award the Carolyn Boone Lewis Living the Vision award to Boston Medical Center (BMC) for their work to help and serve the diverse Boston community by anticipating and providing services that go beyond traditional hospital care. The award will be presented to BMC employees and Elaine Ullian, President and CEO, by AHA’s immediate past chairman, George Lynn, at a celebration ceremony March 20.

BMC serves a very diverse patient population; more than 70 percent are minorities, many recent immigrants. BMC is the city’s largest provider of care for the indigent. More than half of their patients qualify for Free Care or Medicaid. To meet the many varying needs of the patients and families they serve, BMC has created a variety of strong, community specific programs from language translators and health advocacy training to nutritious option food banks. A few of the programs are listed below:
• Part of BMC’s commitment to honoring the diversity and respecting ethnic, religious and cultural differences is providing person-to-person interpreters in more than 30 languages 24 hours a day. BMC’s interpreter services do more than provide translation, they serve as cultural brokers to patients and staff. Last year, they assisted in more than 148,000 interactions with patients and visitors.
• The Family Advocacy Program connects children and their families with proactive legal assistance relating to housing, public benefits, domestic violence, nutrition, health care, employment, education and immigration. Recognizing that children living in poverty can experience poor health and development regardless of the quality of medical care that they receive, BMC has created a legal advocacy program to ensure families’ basic needs – from adequate housing and nutrition to income supports and appropriate educational services – are met. The program also trains health care professionals to identify non-medical barriers to a patient’s health and to incorporate advocacy as part of their treatment plan. Since the program’s inception, more than 3,000 families have been helped.
• BMC is working to address the culturally diverse and often religiously based approaches to healing that impact patient experiences. Preventive care and the healing process can be very different to various communities each with their own traditions and ways of healing. With the goal of helping health care practitioners learn from a network within the community, the Healing Landscape Project hopes to transform physician self understanding and the patient-doctor relationship.
• Giving food, education in nutrition and cooking demonstrations to nearly 3,800 patients per month, BMC’s Preventive Food Pantry and Demonstration Kitchen provide culturally appropriate foods for normal and therapeutic diets and address a wide range of disorders often associated with malnutrition and hunger. Fighting hunger with both preventive and therapeutic measures, patients are given a “food prescription” that can be filled up to twice a month. Staff enrolls eligible residents in the Food Stamps program.

“Every day, the women and men at Boston Medical Center help families from different backgrounds, cultures and religions treating each as a unique experience,” said AHA president Dick Davidson. “This strong commitment to honoring diversity and taking health beyond broken bones and hospital walls speaks to the spirit of service that permeates everything BMC does. It’s that spirit that we honor with this award.”

Established in 1998 and named after the former AHA chair and health care leader, Carolyn Boone Lewis, the Living the Vision Award recognizes institutions or individuals living the

AHA’s vision of a society of healthy communities where all individuals reach their highest potential for health. Up to four awards can be given per year.

About the AHA
The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the improvement of health in their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, 4,800 hospitals, health systems and other health care organizations, and 33,000 individuals. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information visit the Web site at www.aha.org.

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