Boston Medical Center Receives $25 Million Donation To Fight Opioid Addiction Public Health Crisis
South Shore natives John and Eilene Grayken are donating $25 million to Boston Medical Center – the largest in its history. As a result, BMC is creating the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine to help battle the drug epidemic.
The Graykens tend to donate anonymously, but say they are coming forward with this gift as an effort to destigmatize addiction and encourage others to act, as well.
Michale Botticelli, formerly of the Massachusetts Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, told the Boston Globe:
“ we have not seen private philanthropy in the addiction space to the extent we see it in other areas of health care, like cancer.”
“There’s an idea that people with substance-abuse disorders are somehow less deserving of care and treatment and compassion . . . ”
BMC is located close to Boston’s infamous Methadone Mile, an area along Massachusetts Avenue where dealers operate alongside treatment facilities. Officials at BMC hope the new Grayken Center will elevate BMC into a premier facility for drug research, training, and treatment.
The prevalence of opioid addiction spawned a new room opened by the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, located close to BMC. This room is provided to drug users as a haven where they can ride out their highs while being medically monitored.
According to the Boston Globe, BMC was introduced to the Graykens by a past board member who also co-chairs its current capital campaign. The couple took a tour of the center in December and were especially interested in their work done in the field of addiction and substance abuse.
In the past, the largest donations the center received were two $15 million contributions, one from the Yawkey Foundation (2003) for the Moakley Cancer Care Building, and one from the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Foundation (2008) for the Shapiro Ambulatory Care Center.
Conversely, the largest donation to Massachusetts General is $100 million, contributed by Phillip and Susan Ragon in 2009, owners of the software company InterSystems. It appears that despite BMC’s dedication to those who are low-income, it relies mostly on government subsidies and lacks in the area of fundraising.
Publicly, BMC spokespersons refer to the drug addiction and opioid epidemic a “heartbreaking” public health crisis.
About John Graykens
According to Forbes, 60-year-old John Grayken is worth about $6.5 billion. He was raised in Cohasset and has four children. He attended the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. He made his fortune by buying companies in financial trouble, such as delinquent home mortgages.
Grayken founded the Dallas-based Lone Star Funds in 1995. His companies have reportedly been investigated by the New York attorney general for the handling of delinquent mortgages. Grayken said in an interview with a German publication, however, that his companies always abide by the law.
About The Opioid Public Health Crisis
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 33,000 overdose deaths related to opioids occurred in 2015, and Massachusetts was hit particularly hard, along with much of New England.
Public heath officials state that close to 2,000 people died of an opioid-related overdose in Massachusetts last year, equating to five times the number of car accident fatalities.
In Massachusetts in 2015, the estimated rate of opioid-related overdose deaths was 22.6 deaths per 100,000 residents. This reflects a 12.4% increase from the rate of 20.1 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2014.
To make matters worse, the surge in opioid prescriptions has also lead to a surge in heroin addiction and overdoses. According to the CDC, as many as 4 in 5 new heroin users report first becoming addicted to prescription painkillers before switching to illicit drugs.
Currently, the most overdoses in the U.S. are related to heroin, fentanyl, and prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, while 20 million persons in the United States continue to suffer from drug abuse or addiction.
About Boston Medical Center
According to its website, BMC is a “private, not-for-profit, 496-bed, academic medical center.” It is also “the primary teaching affiliate for Boston University School of Medicine…the largest safety net hospital and busiest trauma and emergency services center in New England.”
Additionally, 59% of patients are from under-served populations, and 31% of patients do not speak English as a primary language.
BMC offers a number of programs and services including:
- Public Health Screenings
- Smoking Cessation
- Preventive Food Pantry
- Interpreter Services in over 240 Languages, 24 hours a day
BMC report more than one million patient visits per year and over 70 medical specialties and sub-specialties. In 2015, they had over 24,801 inpatient admissions and hosted more than 1400 physicians, residents, and fellows. In total, BMC employed more than 4,900 persons full-time.
At present, BMC provides health care to more low-income patients than any other medical center in New England.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology