Donation to MGH Institute to Strengthen Behavioral Health Care in Charlestown

A generous gift of $200,000 will allow the MGH Institute of Health Professions’s School of Nursing to assess the effectiveness of behavioral health practices at its Ruth Sleeper Center for Clinical Education and Wellness while expanding services to improve access to health care for residents of Charlestown.

May and Tom Chin are longtime supporters of the MGH Institute’s School of Nursing and they both have strong ties to Charlestown. May Chin is a 1958 graduate of the former Massachusetts General Hospital Nursing School and to show gratitude for her nursing education, May and Tom have supported nursing students by establishing three nursing scholarships for IHP nursing students. Additionally, the Chins have been enthusiastic supporters of the Sanders IMPACT Practice Center, where they named the adult rehabilitation gym in addition to naming the nursing center after May’s nursing educator and mentor at Mass General, the renowned Ruth Sleeper. Ms. Sleeper was also part of the group at the hospital who launched the IHP’s nursing program.

This donation is the most recent in the Chins’ deep commitment to linking access to care of Charlestown residents, especially those who are underserved, while raising the bar to prepare nurses to measure and report the value of their interventions with clients at the Sleeper Center. Additional health care services will be realized over the next three years.

Outcomes will be measured by collecting quality of life and client satisfaction data, evaluating student knowledge of telehealth, gauging faculty’s increase in knowledge and skills in outcome research, using demographic and aggregate data to determine the program’s effectiveness, and assessing interprofessional partnerships.

“Collecting and analyzing data on how patients are compliant with following their care plans will help support the role nurses play in the community,” May Chin said, noting that much of health care is moving toward preventative care. “This can become a baseline where the IHP can quantify social determinants of health, which can lead to better patient care and outcomes. I learned how important it is to look at the whole patient when I was learning from Ms. Sleeper, and it’s something I used for my entire career.”

According to Kathy Sabo, the Sleeper Center’s director, the project’s first year will focus on expanding behavioral health telehealth services at Charlestown’s Robert A. Georgine Towers, more commonly known as 100 Ferrin Street. Many residents of the public housing development, where IHP students in the psychiatric mental health track have provided supportive counseling services under faculty supervision, have limited access to the internet. That has prevented them from receiving care since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic forced the center to pivot from in-person care.

Funds will be used to improve Wi-fi access and provide free tablets to enable virtual visits “We’re interested in learning how much the lack of technology has been a barrier for residents,” said Sabo. Interpreter services for residents, more than half of whom are Chinese and for whom English is not their primary language, also will be offered.

Services in the second year will expand to pediatric clients through established partnerships with the Kennedy Center and Harvard-Kent Elementary School (thanks to a grant the MGH Institute received from the Charlestown office of national accounting firm RSM), as well as the MGH Charlestown Healthcare Center. In addition, nursing students and faculty will partner with their speech-language pathology, physical therapy, and occupational therapy peers in the Sanders IMPACT Practice Center to assist children with autism and speech literacy issues.

In year three, the interprofessional collaboration will add working with the IMPACT Center’s Parkinson’s support group for caretakers and expand programming for vulnerable populations to include end-of-life counseling, parent-child guidance, and addiction support. Clients referred by the psychiatric department at Mass General will continue to be served throughout the grant.

“The outcomes of the behavioral health services are not currently evaluated,” said Dr. Ruth Palan Lopez, associate dean of research and director of the School of Nursing’s Office of Research and Scholarship. “This generous investment in nursing scholarship will expand the scope of recognized activities and demonstrate the growth of research as a core strength of the School of Nursing.”

The IHP is especially grateful for this significant investment by the Chins to expand its research footprint and to enable systemic change in health care inequities in its Charlestown neighborhood. 

All Charlestown residents are invited to learn more about services provided by the Sleeper Center. Please contact Kathy Sabo at 617-643-1127 or [email protected] for more information.

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