Boston Medical Center Receives $25M For Opioid Center

By Britni de la Cretaz 03/08/17

The $25 million is the largest donation in the hospital’s history.

bags of money.

Boston Medical Center is just one hospital in the healthcare hub that is the city of Boston. However, it’s the hospital system that often has difficulty fundraising and drumming up large donations for the facility.

That’s because BMC, located across the street from homeless shelters and homeless health care programs, serves a large number of low-income patients. But it is exactly that clientele that led John and Eilene Grayken to donate $25 million—the largest donation in the hospital’s history—towards a new addiction treatment center, Eilene told the Boston Globe.

The center will be aptly named the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine. The Graykens, who say that they usually make their charitable donations anonymously, decided to attach their name to the donation as a way of destigmatizing addiction in the hopes that other philanthropic folks will follow suit.

“That’s why I thought, OK, it would be more helpful for us to be out there and have our names and our reason known,” Eilene said. “There are a lot of high-profile, wealthy people who have the means to help, and I wanted to encourage people in that bracket to come forward.”

Michael Botticelli, former White House drug czar and former head of the Massachusetts Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, told the Boston Globe that because of the stigmatized nature of addiction, “we have not seen private philanthropy in the addiction space to the extent we see it in other areas of health care, like cancer.”

He continued, “There’s an idea that people with substance-abuse disorders are somehow less deserving of care and treatment and compassion ... and issues of addiction can be seen as unpopular programs for unpopular people.”

Eilene Grayken declined to go into specifics, but said that addiction has touched her family. “This is a disease that doesn’t respect gender, class, social status, or money. It can literally be anybody susceptible to this,” she said.

BMC is located across the street from Boston Health Care for the Homeless, which opened SPOT, the Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment, last year. More than half of its patients are low-income. It is for this reason that they don’t receive the kinds of donations that other hospitals in the area might; the grateful former patients don’t have any money to give.

BMC had calculated a need for $15 million to open an addiction treatment center. They got that, and more. They hope that the Grayken Center will become a leader in addiction treatment, research, and training.

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.