Patient Stories

Living in a motel is not a vacation. Families are crammed into one room, with no kitchen, no place for children to play or do homework, and no privacy. Day in and day out. “Marguerite” knows this reality very well. She has been living in a motel near Boston with her 14-year old son, “Nicolas”, and her 1-year old daughter, “Sophie”.

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They were roommates at Barbara McInnis House, BHCHP's 104-bed respite care facility for homeless adults with complex conditions like cancer, heart disease, pneumonia and diabetes. If Barbara McInnis House did not exist, these two men, who were both too sick for shelters or the streets, would require prolonged and costly hospitalization in the acute care rooms of Boston's hospitals.

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In 2008, Maria was working 50 hours a week managing a small restaurant. She owned her own home. She even had her health. Then one morning when she was getting ready for work, her left arm went numb, shortly followed by her left leg. When she woke up in the hospital, Maria learned she had a stroke that was most likely caused by undiagnosed high blood pressure, complicated by diabetes. She was unable to work. In less than four months, her house was gone.

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“My husband died after 14 years on dialysis. My life fell apart and I ended up living under a bridge in Kenmore Square. Living outside is horrible. It's hard to break the cycle once you're in the streets. You're dirty. There are no showers, no clothes or food. Your spirit gets very damaged just trying to survive."

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We had cared for Dennis for years; in his cardboard box under a loading dock at the Wise Potato Chip factory in South Boston, in the hospital, in Barbara McInnis House and finally in housing. Dennis struggled with mental illness and alcoholism. He suffered the usual ravages of the street: frostbite, fractures, and a very deep sense of worthlessness. His life was filled with pain.

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