Today’s Daily Camera has a very positive article about the partnership
between BCH and Bridge House. The article focuses mainly on the positive
impact of BCH's on-site nursing care at Bridge House's overnight
shelter, but the reporter also reviews some of the other elements of this
important relationship, including flu shots, hiring Bridge House clients,
catering and more.
BCH is thankful to share this article's powerful confirmation of the
transformative power of partnership and the impact of providing the right
care at the right place at the right time. Thanks to president and CEO
Dr. Robert Vissers, BCH Foundation president Grant Besser, director of
case management Beth Burgin and many others for helping the BCH vision
-- Partnering to create and care for the healthiest community in the nation
-- take shape.
Read the article online, or read the full text below:
BCH, Bridge House, partner to serve Boulder County's homeless
Targeting problems caused by lack of access
By John Marinelli
For as long as many in Boulder County can remember, homelessness has been
a serious concern.
Despite the economic growth that the area has been experiencing in recent
years, according to the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative, the metro Denver
area, which includes Boulder County, had 5,116 homeless as recently as
January 30, 2017.
These people experiencing homelessness have to deal with many hardships,
including some that cause serious medical issues.
This is where Bridge House and Boulder Community Health come in.
In a partnership that was forged earlier this year, the two organizations
hope to alleviate some of the pressures that homelessness places on both
medical professionals and those experiencing it.
Part of this partnership includes having a nurse available at Bridge House's
"We've worked together for a number of years," said Isabel
McDevitt, CEO of Bridge House.
"And really in the last six months, since BCH has put more resources
toward some of their partnerships, we've been really fortunate to
be able to benefit from having more of the presence of their nurse at
our path to home program."
This presence, usually 18 to 20 hours a week right now, has been helping
in a variety of ways.
In a conversation at Bridge House's 30th Street location in Boulder,
Beth Burgin, Boulder Community Health's director of case management,
said that it can eliminate some unnecessary visits to the emergency room
that experiencing homelessness can cause.
"Things like 'I need someone to look at my feet, because I have
diabetes and I wonder if my feet might be having a problem,' or 'I
have a hemorrhoid,'" she said. "These are primary care needs,
not emergency needs."
Grant Besser, Boulder Community Health's foundation president, added
that a lot of these problems are caused by a lack of access.
"By providing the on-site nursing care, we're essentially trying
to get to the right care at the right place at the right time," he said.
Betsy Welch, a nurse that works with Boulder community Health and visits
Bridge House, also said that access is a big problem for the homeless
population, and that finding help can be difficult.
She said that some of the problems that she sees the most in the homeless
population are "navigating community resources to try and establish
health care, or find assisted living, or set up management of chronic
"With homeless people a lot of times there's issues that preclude
them from doing that. They lost their IDs, they don't have a primary
care provider," she said.
Welch also said that Bridge House case managers are effective at helping
homeless navigate these things, in cooperation with both Boulder Community
Health and Clinica Family Health, a non-profit that can step in and help
with mental health care and finding a primary care doctor.
"The biggest demographic that we actually intervene and help with
have mental health issues along with untreated chronic disease,"
And according to her, mental health issues can be a serious barrier to
getting other treatment, and nurses can help to intervene and guide patients
to services that can help them.
"What used to happen is before we did this intervention is they would
go straight to the emergency department," she said.
Other facets of this partnership include a program to provide free flu
shots to the homeless and providing jobs at Boulder Community Health to
clients in Bridge House's Ready to Work program, something that provides
transitional housing, support programs and paid work to try and lift people
out of homelessness.
Boulder Community Health also employs the services of Bridge House's
culinary arts job training program, which is available to cater events.
"Last week they catered a really important event that I spoke at and
I can tell you the food was fantastic," said Dr. Robert Vissers,
president and CEO of Boulder Community Health. "I didn't realize
until afterwards that it was them. It was really well done. I was impressed.
"I think we're just discovering some of the opportunities that
we have with Bridge House."
To learn more about the BCH Foundation, visit: https://www.bch.org/Donate.aspx
To learn about our Community Collaboration Fund, visit: https://www.bch.org/Latest-News/2018/May/BCH-Foundation-Announces-New-Community-Collabora.aspx
Please view our slideshare below of recently hired individuals from Bridge
House who now work as BCH catering staff.