Health Justice for Boston ~ Number 22. October 2015
The fight for a just, healthy society has grown much more intense in recent weeks, as reflected in all the actions in which thousands in the Boston area have participated.
Recently, the Curbing Gentrification campaign of the Chinese Progressive Association burst forth in Chinatown, with many marching behind a banner urging residents to “Remain, Reclaim, Rebuild Our Community.” Petitioning is under way to support this effort. Call 617-357-4499.
September 27th: Opponents of the high-pressure pipeline set to carry fracked gas through West Roxbury mounted a colorful march and rally. Folks in many other communities across Massachusetts and globally are in the streets over such reckless intrusions, including the people of Weymouth opposing the construction of a compressor plant.
October 3rd: Boston-based Labor for Bernie, including the Massachusetts Nurses Association, helped fill the convention center in South Boston for the huge historic rally with Senator Bernie Sanders carrying the fight for enhanced Medicare for all into the presidential campaign.
October 6th: The West Roxbury fight against the fracked-gas pipeline grew stronger as three people committed civil disobedience and were arrested. Further actions are forthcoming.
October 8th: A year ago, the City of Boston suddenly shut down the bridge to the Long Island homeless shelter, cutting off scores of people from their belongings, including their prescription medications, and leaving them without shelter. On the anniversary of this tragedy, the homeless and their advocates rallied and marched to end the warehousing of people and to make decent, affordable housing a right in this super-rich country. Councillor Charles Yancey, as always, weighed in on the side of the poor and oppressed. For this, the forces of finance are geared to oust him from office. To help him retain his seat, call 617-282-0151.
October 11: Somerville’s Tenth Annual Honk Festival brought activists from around Greater Boston to march for a just society with brass bands from around the world. The Massachusetts Teachers Association and Raise Up Massachusetts were among the strongest contingents.
These actions are just the beginning. The first phase is under way of the campaign to amend the Massachusetts constitution to allow us to raise the tax rate of those making over $1million a year to fund education and transportation. On October 20th, nurses and their allies will pack the State House in Boston for vital patient safety protection. Chicago will witness the country’s largest gathering of activists fighting for national health insurance from October 30th to November 1st. We’re hoping for a respectable Boston delegation to help make health care a right and not a commodity. - Sandy Eaton
Brookside Community Health Center was formed around 1970 with money from Model Cities, a federal program of the Great Society which underwrote such projects for five years. It began in a trailer in the parking lot of Our Lady of Lourdes parish hall. The old Paris Paper Box Company building on Washington Street in Jamaica Plain was renovated to house the health center, with space donated to NICE (Neighborhood Involvement for Children's Education) day care center which was formed in 1967 by local parents but did not have a home until the Director of Brookside enabled it to get the space renovated for the purpose.
One challenge for the healthcare center and the daycare center was the huge influx of Spanish-speaking people into Jamaica Plain around that time. This was met by hiring Spanish-speaking staff and requiring the Anglo staff to learn some Spanish. This is in sharp contrast to Whittier Street Health Center, which in 2004 tried to fire employees for speaking Spanish amongst themselves, which community and worker opposition successfully blocked.
Another challenge was the imposition of control by big teaching hospitals. Brookside had a firm commitment to governance by a Policy Board composed of patients and employees. However, for reimbursement reasons most health centers in Boston became satellites of major teaching hospitals or went under. (Brookside is now affiliated with Partners.) In future issues we will discuss the stultifying effect this has had on the effectiveness of community control.
Brookside has no X-ray facilities, except in its dental department, and no eye clinic. Podiatry is offered at its sister institution, Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center.
At a time when other centers are cut back or eliminated in the power grab of public monies, Brookside has survived and grown. NICE has moved to its own building and that space is now a modern mental health department. - Quentin Davis
Raise Up Massachusetts has launched “An Initiative Petition for An Amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth to Provide Resources for Education and Transportation through an additional tax on Incomes in excess of One Million Dollars.” Please sign the petition when presented to you. To get involved, call 617-470-5664.
What is Healthcare Justice?
- Access: Can you get the care you need?
- Affordability: Will you go bankrupt if you do?
- Quality: Will you survive your encounter?
- Equality: Do you meet special barriers to care?
For more information on health care as a right, not a commodity:
To navigate the current system:
Boston Mayor’s HealthLine @ 617-534-5050
Health Care For All - Massachusetts
Consumer Health HelpLine @ 800-272-4232
Massachusetts Health Connector
Customer Support @ 877-623-6765
For more information, contact: