Open Accessibility Menu

BCH, Bridge House Partner to Serve Homeless

BCH, Bridge House Partner to Serve Homeless

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 overnight shelter.

"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 health issues.

"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," Burgin said.

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:

To learn about our Community Collaboration Fund, visit:

Please view our slideshare below of recently hired individuals from Bridge House who now work as BCH catering staff.