August 1, 2008
Jean Yawkey Place: Dedicated to health care for the homeless

In 1985, as an MGH resident moving on to an oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York, James O'Connell, MD, expected to spend only one year working with what would become the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP). But that single year turned into many more. On May 28, the dedication of the 77,000-square-foot Jean Yawkey Place, the new facility for BHCHP at 780 Albany St. in Boston, also marked over 20 years of O'Connell's stewardship of the program.


HEARTS FOR THE HOMELESS: From left, O'Connell, Suzy Welch, Akins and Jack Welch

Founded by O'Connell, an MGH physician, and a citywide coalition with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, BHCHP has a mission to "provide and assure access to the highest quality health care for Boston's homeless men, women and children." Now that BHCHP serves more than 10,000 individuals and employs a staff of over 300, Jean Yawkey Place will unite the organization's departments and operations in one location while expanding medical respite services and continuing to offer medical services at more than 80 sites throughout Boston.

The new center was named in a tribute to the Yawkey Foundation for its $5 million gift for the building's renovation. As the first-of-its-kind facility in the United States, Jean Yawkey Place will include a comprehensive primary care clinic with 14 examining rooms; a dental clinic; outpatient mental health services integrated with primary care medical services; an outpatient pharmacy; administrative and research offices; and the Barbara McInnis House, a medical respite unit currently located in Jamaica Plain, which will house 104 beds and care for 2,000 homeless adult patients per year.

In part because of the MGH's long involvement with BHCHP through the work started by O'Connell, Partners HealthCare donated $2.5 million to help jumpstart renovations for the center. The space was leased to the program by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston Public Health Commission for $1 per year for 90 years. Currently, $3.6 million is still to be raised by the end of this year to meet a $2 million challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation. This will allow BHCHP to complete a $42 million capital campaign.

MGH President Peter L. Slavin, MD, joined Matt Fishman, Partners vice president of Community Health, and Thomas Glynn, Partners chief operating officer, at the Jean Yawkey Place dedication to announce the naming of the center's atrium for O'Connell. MGH cardiothoracic surgeon Cary Akins, MD, also was honored at the event. The buildingĂ•s pavilion will be named for Akins at the request of lead donors Jack Welch, former General Electric chief executive officer, and Welch's wife, Suzy.  

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