Health Care Without Walls provides compassionate, comprehensive, and gender-respected health care and care coordination to unhoused and housing insecure women, women-identified and families.
Our model of care is designed to address the full spectrum of health needs for vulnerable unhoused and housing-insecure women. Health care needs we address include acute and chronic medical conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes, mental illness). Among the health determinants we address are housing, benefits, food, transportation and safety concerns.
The backbone of our organization is our nursing team and community health workers. Together with our volunteer physicians, they provide care that is personalized and tender and includes diagnostic tests, treatment of acute and chronic conditions, referrals, education, and counseling. Our clients range from one day old infants to women in their nineties, and all of them bound by the common need for human kindness–given without red tape, bureaucratic hurdles, or stigmatization.
The women we serve have unique medical and biological needs. The added challenges of trauma and homelessness take a significant toll on health: homeless persons experience age-related medical conditions 10-20 years earlier than the population at large. The vast majority of homeless women suffer from one or more chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory disease. Our nurse-led team of caregivers is there to help with:
- Acute illness diagnoses and referrals
- Chronic disease management including
- Blood pressure monitoring
- Blood sugar testing
- Medication management
- Primary and specialist care referrals
- Health education
Nurses are available by telehealth appointment, or drop-in / call-in during regular clinic hours.
Housing Search & Support
The dire lack of affordable housing in Massachusetts makes homelessness a public health crisis. Finding permanent, affordable housing in MA requires intense, persistent effort and advocacy to locate qualified housing; complete applications; and then successfully rent, move in, and maintain a home.
Our Community Health Workers provide housing search and support services to any client in need of permanent shelter. Any client who is experiencing homelessness — whether on the street, doubled-up or currently in a shelter — can get our help.
Our team of Community Health Workers will assist with the search for affordable housing:
- Gather all of the necessary documents for housing eligibility
- Assist with applications for Section-8 vouchers, rental offices, and more
- Help finalize housing placement
- Connect with supporting services
- Be the advocate after housing to ensure the client remains stable, and securely housed.
Bridges to Elders
The number of elderly women who are homeless or struggling in Boston is growing dramatically. For clients 55 or older, we recognize the unique hardships and we are here to help.
Bridges to Elders offers intensive case management and support, with a dedicated team of Nurse Practitioners and Community Health Workers. We are here to bridge the gap between traditional medical care and social services to meet all health needs including housing, food security, transportation, and personal safety.
Our dedicated team of clinicians will:
- Provide an assessment of overall medical conditions and health care needs
- Assist with MassHealth, Medicare, SSI, SSDI, SNAP, and any other entitlement applications
- Support a housing search, in collaboration with community partners
- Accompany clients to medical appointments to listen and advocate on their behalf
Bridges to Moms
When pregnant women engage with the health care system there’s an assumption that they have a support network– a warm, safe home; supportive family and friends; baby supplies; healthy food; and reliable transportation. But homeless and housing insecure women lack these supports and the traditional health care framework is not designed to provide them. In partnership with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Bridges to Moms (BTM) provides intensive case management for pregnant and postpartum unhoused/housing insecure women receiving Obstetrics care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Our dedicated team of clinicians will:
- Address key social determinants of health (housing, transportation, food, and personal safety)
- Measure clients’ vital signs, monitor fetal heart rate, provide diabetes tests and education, educate about family planning, help connect to primary care, and more
- Provide pregnancy and post-partum education, breast-feeding assistance, screening for post-partum depression, and address personal safety concerns
- Help navigate the housing search process, assist with food stamps and WIC, provide BWH cafeteria meal vouchers and provide cab vouchers to medical appointments and NICU visits
- Accompany women to appointments and are available for support, counseling, and advocacy through the post-partum period and beyond
Education, Research and Advocacy
HCWW is a host site for community service electives for medical and nursing students, pre-meds, medical residents, and students of other allied health professions using a curriculum created and published to address the unique challenges and medical needs of homeless women. Each trainee receives a copy of “Medical Care for Homeless Women: A Curriculum for Novice Providers,” written by Health Care Without Walls. Through this program HCWW prepares clinicians to be compassionate caregivers who are skilled at meeting the needs of the underserved, emphasizing the important role of volunteerism as a way to effect social change.
We also use our own clinical experience to track and evaluate the impact of our care on those we serve. Our research studies examine how free care for the under-served can be financially advantageous to our communities, and we present at national and international conferences. It is our goal to inform health care policy at institutional, local, and national levels.