Whittier Street Patient Panel
On March 13 at Northeastern Crossing a "Patients Rights Board" highlighted patient testimonies to address the recent staff, orthodontic, urgent care, and mental health cuts at Whittier Street Health Center.
During the event, diverse patients of the Health Center, demanded a reversal of recent cuts to services, discussed the impact of those cuts on patient care at Whittier Street. A panel of faith, community, and, labor leaders heard their testimony and will use that to arrive at a series of recommendations for the future of the Health Center.
Some quotes from the event include:
“I want to see my provider back. Like tomorrow. If we can make that possible, Whittier St.”
AIDS activist: “This system wasn’t built for us. We got a small piece of the pie, and it was Whittier St…After my provider left, I was dropped [from care]. This is violence. How could you not call this violence?”
“My health care began at South Bay Correctional Center. I got my health care by a number, not a name. People from Whittier came and showed us how to be whole again after we left. When I left, they set me up with an apartment, they set me up with a coat…I’ve been a patient for ten years, and for one year my care has been disgusting. I’m here in opiate withdrawal because my provider couldn’t see me to refill a prescription…My new doctor refused to refill my opiate prescription of four years. In the last six months, my primary care has collapsed. My mental health care has evaporated…Frederica Williams named a building after herself.”
“This change [firing union organizers] will not affect patient care.” – letter Frederica sent to patients
“After my son was killed I was diagnosed with complications from grief…complicated grief. I would go into therapy saying things that didn’t sound right. I was doing things that could’ve killed me and my daughter. The holidays are hard and I went to the clinic. Therapy was a day of release. You don’t have to worry about suicidal thoughts. It’s all right to have somebody who gets what’s going on inside of you. [When my provider was let go] my body took it like another loss. He wasn’t there. There are things I just don’t understand what I think or how I feel. Real closure would’ve helped me process.”
“Whittier Street used to be a prime example of what a health center could be. Now it’s a revolving door. I am the face of domestic violence. They were there to catch me. Now, I called for a month and had to physically come. I’m the type of person to call from outside the lobby and see you sitting there not picking up. It’s a poor culture.”
“I am a victim of crime. I have PTSD and anxiety because the trauma I’ve had but I’m thinking about people who are suicidal – how are they going to get the help they need? They can’t reach out.”
“All these politicians who want us to vote for them, we have to write to them and tell them what we need.”
Good, affordable healthcare is increasingly hard to find in communities of color in our city, and the Whittier Street Health Center used to be a place where Roxbury and South End community members could go for high-quality healthcare services. We want that Whittier Street Clinic back.
Sign the petition to support patients and doctors at Whittier Street
Photos: Olivia Moscicki