“The type of clients we are servicing really require a lot of time. They have extremely complex situations, multiple medical issues, abuse issues, mental-health issues. We are doubling the amount of time we spend with them,” said the Rev. Thomas Conway, executive director of the St. Anthony Shrine. “All of these women suffered a lot of trauma. It is important they are in a place where they feel safe.”
The clinic, open twice a week, has helped about a dozen women a week since it opened in March 2016. Average time spent with each patient who requires a myriad of medical care — drug abuse, mental-health problems, physical and sexual abuse, hyptertension — is about an hour, officials said. But the demand was so high, some women ended up never being treated, officials said.
The clinic now operates with one nurse practitioner from the Boston Health Care for Homeless Program. But now, Conway said, the clinic will be able to hire a registered nurse and a drug counselor, and will also build a shower for its patients.
The Cummings Foundation has awarded a total of $10 million to 33 local nonprofits meant to ease long-term burdens on the organizations, enabling them to focus more on their missions, an official with the foundation said in a statement.
“Long-term financial support is rare for nonprofits, making fundraising a constant and time-consuming task for organizations like St. Anthony Shrine,” said Joyce Vyriotes, deputy director of the Cummings Foundation. She added the grant is “intended to provide some relief, allowing them to focus more of their time and energy on delivering and enhancing their important services.”
Mary Ann Ponti, the director of the Outreach Program at St. Anthony Shrine, said the all-female staff at the clinic puts clients at ease. “Women are able to relax. Many of them have refused medical services prior to coming.”
The opioid crisis has dramatically increased the need for the clinic, noting that “certainly well over half” come to the clinic with opioid-related problems, she said.