In Charlestown, a teenager is succeeding in battling a heroin addiction with help from a community coalition making remarkable progress in reducing overdoses and deaths from heroin and OxyContin. Nearby in Chelsea, a small child receives therapeutic services after witnessing a terrifying scene of domestic violence. And in Boston, an elderly adult with impaired mobility receives vital health screenings without having to leave her home. At first glance, there are few similarities among these individuals. Yet, a closer examination reveals they are linked by a shared bond — all three were helped by community-based programs offered by the MGH.
On June 3, the MGH marked its longstanding dedication to its neighbors, hosting a special celebration formally renewing the hospital's commitment to community health. In 2007, the MGH revised its mission statement to include a promise to "improve the health and well-being of the diverse communities we serve," a statement that reflects the hospital's deep commitment to patients and families, research, education, quality and safety, and the community. The event also recognized the official introduction of the new MGH Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI), previously known as the MGH Community Benefit Program.
The event's two guest speakers — John Auerbach, commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health; and David Satcher, MD, PhD, the 16th U.S. surgeon general and current director of the National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine — commended the MGH for making community health a priority. "The MGH is an example of what an academic medical center should be all about in responding to the health of communities," said Satcher during his keynote address.
Also joining in the festivities were Peter L. Slavin, MD, president of the MGH; Edward P. Lawrence, Esq., chairman of the MGH Board of Trustees; Joan Quinlan, director of the CCHI; Jeffrey Collins, MD, medical director of the CCHI; and Britain Nicholson, MD, chief medical officer. "This event takes us back to our roots as an institution," said Slavin. "This hospital was founded to care for the sick and poor of this region and beyond."
The CCHI will continue to develop the work of the Community Benefit Program with a mission to "collaborate with community and hospital partners to build and sustain healthier communities and enhance the hospital's responsiveness to patients and community members from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds." CCHI priorities include preventing and reducing violence and substance abuse, increasing career and educational opportunities for Boston students, eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health care and improving access to care for vulnerable populations such as the homeless, elderly, and immigrants and refugees.
For more information about the CCHI, visit www.massgeneral.org/cchi.
COMMITTED TO CARE: A student from the James P. Timilty Middle School shares a laug