For Karen Friedman and Peggy Andreas, the stimulus grant that Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) received means that the two nurses can provide healthcare services for more homeless families.

Karen Friedman and Peggy Andreas
The agency received a $238K grant for increased demand for services which enabled its Family Team, which deals specifically with children and their caretakers, to hire Andreas and Friedman.

Andreas helps homeless families who were placed in hotels and motels while Friedman also helps families in homeless and domestic violence shelters. Both women have made a tremendous impact on the program. According to Nancy Paladino, the director of the Family Team, the program was able to add eight new locations thanks to the increased staff.

Recovery Act Impact: Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program

  • Increased Demand for Services: $238K

  • Helped fund two nurses

  • Increased services to eight new locations

  • Capital Improvement Program: $705K

  • Purchased new clinical equipment

  • Implemented technology upgrades

  • Acquired a reporting platform

  • Enhanced building's security features

According to Friedman, the care she provides is diverse and vital. She is often accompanied by a case manager and she makes sure the families have access not only to medications but also to clothes, transportation to medical appointments and benefits. Friedman said she'll make sure children can remain in the schools they were in before their families became homeless.

If someone is sick, she will evaluate them and either treat them or send them to the Emergency Room. She'll contact their primary care provider. She'll make sure immunizations and prescriptions are up to date. "A lot of it is advocacy," she said. "I am teaching people how the system works."

Karen Friedman and Peggy Andreas
And so much more. "One of the most important things our team does isn't as much the medical care as being there, being a connection day in, day out," added Friedman. "It's having people know there is someone they can call and count on. That is the most valuable piece we provide."

For children who are homeless, their health problems are often unique. Friedman says that some of the children aren't eating healthful diets and she teaches families how they can change that.

Friedman admits that the job is often tough but she wouldn't have it any other way. She has been in clinical practice for nearly 30 years in a variety of settings - schools, colleges, Community Health Centers - but she said she was always interested in working for BHCFP, specifically on the Family Team. "I love the outreach aspect," she said.

When she heard about this position, Friedman said she jumped at the opportunity. She is glad she did. "The Family Team is a very collaborative group," she said. "I feel like it's such a vital team in terms of caring for families and trying to keep families together and viable and moving towards self sufficiency. I'm really grateful for the stimulus funds."