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MGH nurses make "house calls" in Boston's West End and Beacon Hill neighborhoods
Hospital announces new services for older adults

BOSTON - July 17, 2002 -From free nursing and social service clinics in apartment buildings to discount meals at the hospital to health and wellness education, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is expanding its community health programs for senior citizens in Boston's West End and Beacon Hill neighborhoods.

This afternoon, MGH president James J. Mongan, MD, John Rich, MD, medical director of the Boston Public Health Commission, hospital and community leaders officially launched the MGH Senior HealthWise program during a reception at The Blackstone, an elderly housing development on Blossom Street in Boston's West End. MGH Senior HealthWise is designed to improve the health and well being of older adults in Boston's West End and Beacon Hill neighborhoods.

MGH Senior HealthWise offers:

  • Free weekly nursing and social service clinics for 400 elderly residents of Amy Lowell, The Blackstone and Beacon House apartment buildings.
  • Health education and wellness programs for all older adults in the community at Massachusetts General Hospital. These programs include sessions on easy exercises, preventing falls, alcohol abuse, managing diabetes and high blood pressure through good nutrition.
  • Discounted meals at the MGH Eat Street Café - the only hospital cafeteria to be listed in Zagat's restaurant guide.

Seniors registered with the program will also receive a discount at the MGH gift and flower shop.

In announcing the new initiative, MGH president Mongan re-affirmed the hospital's commitment to older adults in the community saying, "Hundreds of senior citizens live within walking distance of the hospital. But that short distance can seem like a huge chasm for older adults who are physically frail, worried about their health, and unsure of whether they need medical attention. Our goal is to keep our elderly neighbors independent, in their own homes - and healthy for as long as possible. We believe this program will help."

John Rich, MD, Medical Director of the Boston Public Health Commission commended Mass. General for developing the Senior HealthWise program. "At a time when many social service programs are cutting back services because of state budget cuts, the MGH has stepped forward to fill a significant health care gap for older adults in Boston," said Rich.

MGH Senior HealthWise Director Barbara Moscowitz, LICSW explained that the free weekly nursing clinics, which actually began three weeks ago, have already helped to prevent a serious health crisis for several frail residents of the three apartment buildings. "During the past three weeks, we have seen a woman on the verge of dehydration, another woman with extremely high, untreated blood pressure, and several people who needed help managing their medication," said Moscowitz. She pointed out that neighborhood residents do not need to be patients of Mass. General in order to enjoy the benefits of the Senior HealthWise program.

"Many building residents stop in for the nursing session to get their blood pressure checked, but very often that is just a way to open the door to other health problems," explained nurse practitioner Frank Bellistri, GNP. "A woman came to us last week for a blood pressure check, but she also told us that she had stopped taking her osteoparosis medication because she could not afford it. A fall could have been a life-altering crisis for her. We helped her get a less costly drug and sign up for assistance through the state's Senior Pharmacy program. I was glad we were there," Bellistri concluded.

The MGH Senior HealthWise program is a community benefit program of Massachusetts General Hospital in collaboration with the hospital's Senior Health Practice. It is part of its community commitment to mitigate impact of new construction in the neighborhood and is funded entirely by the hospital.

For more information about MGH Senior HealthWise, call 617-724-6756.

The Massachusetts General Hospital, founded in 1811, is the oldest and largest teaching hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States. Each year, more than 42,000 patients are admitted to the 870-bed facility, and its outpatient program and Emergency Department record more than 1.4 million visits annually. The largest nongovernment employer in the city of Boston, the MGH employs more than 16,000 people and has a medical staff of more than 3,000 physicians and researchers.

In 1994, the MGH and Brigham and Women's Hospital affiliated to form Partners HealthCare System, an integrated health care delivery network that provides the full range of health care services to patients throughout eastern Massachusetts.

Media Contacts: MGH Public Affairs: 617-726-2206
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