Comfort stations: Connecting those most in need to services

June 10, 2020

During this generation-defining pandemic, caring for people with opioid use disorder (OUD) requires hands-on tactics to meet people where the need is greatest.  RIZE Massachusetts is collaborating with the City of Boston and community-based organizations to help deliver care where it is needed most.

Due to COVID-19, daytime services, public buildings, and businesses have closed, reducing the number of places unsheltered people can go during the day to use the bathroom, wash their hands, and spend time. In response, the City has temporarily opened small “Comfort Stations” with hand washing facilities and portable bathrooms during daytime hours to encourage better personal hygiene practices and social distancing.

Most important, the comfort stations are staffed by City of Boston Recovery Services, Boston Public Health Commission, Boston Police Department, PAARI (the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative), and Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.  Each organization plays a vital role in providing harm reduction services, screening for COVID-19 and directing individuals to treatment and care if they are ready to seek it. “We are grateful to RIZE and our partners for helping us launch the Comfort Stations,” said Jennifer Tracey, Director of the City of Boston Recovery Services. “These spaces are designed to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness and substance use who have been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Through these Comfort Stations, we’ve been able to give people a place to go during the day, access Covid-19 resources, and engage in critical harm reduction and recovery services.”

“Continuing to provide harm reduction services is crucial to maintaining our fight against the opioid epidemic, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our community,” said Julie Burns, President and CEO of RIZE Massachusetts Foundation.  “Through our partnerships, the Comfort Stations have become a successful intervention.”

Funding for the Comfort Stations was made possible by a matching grant from the Boston Resiliency Fund.  RIZE also contributed roughly $285,000 to treatment programs throughout Boston that serve people with substance use disorder.