Dear Friend ,
I hope you and your loved ones are well. As we begin to navigate the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic we all look forward to re-engaging in the community at-large in incremental steps. One universal lesson learned in the past two months is how important community is to all of us. For the women we work with, our nurses, community health workers, and doctors are their community - we listen, support, help and give care when it is needed. We are so grateful that we can continue to be there, thanks to the support of so many.

Similarly, we at HCWW value the organizations we collaborate with to protect and care for the population of homeless women in Massachusetts. Like our clients, we can't do our jobs alone. We are proud to be a part of a larger community of caregivers and organizations who strive to improve the lives of women who are struggling to be healthy and housed. I continue to advocate on behalf of the women during the weekly COVID-19 Boston Public Health Commission homeless providers' phone calls. Whereas the statewide incidence of covid infection is in the 8-10% range, 30-35% of homeless women who have been tested have been infected. We are on the front lines for them because this is really scary.

Below are just a few examples of how we are working together in the community to meet the needs of these women.
Rosie's Place has kept its doors open throughout the pandemic, providing a safe harbor for nearly 200 women each and every day. Here is how they describe their work, and our role keeping women safe:

"It is 7:00 a.m. and the long line of homeless women waiting to come inside Rosie’s Place extends into our parking lot. They stand at markers set six feet apart–cold and tired–and are looking forward to their first cup of coffee. At the door, they are medically screened by the team from Health Care Without Walls, one of our longtime Wellness Center partners. With their expertise, we are able to refer women needing attention to medical services nearby for testing or treatment.

Once inside, our guests are provided with a face mask and move to our Dining Room for a light breakfast and a quiet place to rest. Physical distancing is practiced everywhere at Rosie’s Place; here, guests are comforted to know they have a table to themselves to maintain a safe space. Many women will take a shower; others will watch a movie in our Sitting Room, read one of the books in our takeaway library or seek help with the many uncertainties they face. Later, lunch and dinner will be available, to eat on-site or provided to go. By the time we close our doors, we will – thanks to you –have delivered essential emergency services to close to 200 homeless women with nowhere else to turn."
I was asked to contribute to the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care blog, sharing my background and observations providing care to the homeless community during the pandemic:

"We doctors don’t like to feel helpless. It’s a real comeuppance when we are faced with an unknown entity so vast, so consuming of resources, and so perplexing even to the giants of medicine. And devastating. Robbing lives too soon. Stealing goodbyes and last hugs.... It’s mentally, emotionally, and morally exhausting. I don’t know how these women do it. The terrible planning for these women diminishes who they are, what their lives are worth, what they meant to someone, or what they could do if given half a chance. That’s why I keep going back: to honor them."

To read the full blog, click here .
Caring for Women Who are Homeless During COVID-19

May 7th, 2020
In Boston, a Jewish agency tackles “shocking” poverty and homelessness

Linda Matchan
May 15, 2020 BOSTON
Stereotypes about the homeless are plentiful and often wrong, as are assumptions about many groups of people. It is no surprise that assumptions about homelessness among Jews in America - that they do not exist - are also incorrect. A recent article published in The Forward explores the issue of Jewish homelessness with input from our experience at HCWW.

"It’s difficult to know the extent of Jewish homelessness in the Boston area, but CJP’s partner agencies all say they have homeless clients. They may be living on the street “or doing some version of couch-surfing,” said Deborah Freed. 'They may have a temporary place with a family member who says they can stay for a month, but it won’t last. And we have clients who live in cars.'

Also unknown is how many Jewish people are not on the radar of Jewish organizations. Dr. Roseanna Means is founder and chief medical officer of Health Care Without Walls, a Boston non-profit providing free medical care to homeless women and children, and Jewish women are among her patients. But like women of all faiths, she said, many stay away from formal organizational entities out of a sense of shame."

To read the full article, click here .
We are blessed to be part of such a caring and diverse community. Our fellow caregivers, agencies, donors, and clinicians bring great resolve to address the shortcomings of our healthcare and economic systems. We derive our energy from the strength and fortitude we see every day in our work. At the end of the day, when I am sapped of energy and strength, I savor the moments when I share a smile, a laugh, and a wave (because hugs are no longer safe) and I know that our work, collectively, matters.

With my continued appreciation, gratitude and wishes for your safety,
Roseanna Means, MD
President & Founder
Health Care Without Walls, Inc.
148 Linden Street, Suite 208
Wellesley, MA 02482

Tel: (781) 239-0290 | Fax: (781) 235-6819