Dr. Roseanna Means has been a primary care physician at BWH since 1984. Over the years, her focus has been not only excellent clinical care for patients at BWH but also access to care for vulnerable and homeless persons in Boston. Dr. Means received her MD from Tufts University Medical School and her BS and MSc from MIT. She has an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Babson College. She completed her internship and residency at BWH in 1984 before joining the faculty. In 2010, Dr. Means was selected as a Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leader in recognition of her work.
In addition to her primary care practice at BWH, Dr. Means has served the homeless through several organizations over the years. Dr. Means was senior physician and medical director at the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program from 1990 to 1998. She is the Founder (1999) and past CEO/CMO of Health Care Without Walls (HCWW), formerly “Women of Means”, a non-profit organization of volunteer physicians and staff nurses who provide free bridging medical care and care coordination for unhoused and housing insecure women in Boston. Dr. Means stepped away from HCWW in 2021 after 22 years, having succeeded in establishing its own free-standing DPH-licensed clinic, putting it on a path for Medicaid reimbursement, and helping the non-profit transition to a commercial EMR.
In 2016 she launched Bridges to Moms at BWH to close gaps in health care access and social determinants of health for homeless and housing insecure pregnant women receiving maternity care at BWH. Bridges to Moms is part of the Division of Women’s Health in the Department of Medicine at BWH and serves as a model of a successful innovative “whole health” approach towards vulnerable women. Women are followed through pregnancy and for a year post-partum, provided housing, transportation, food access, safety, and connection to primary and mental health care. The Bridges to Moms Program partners with several Workforce Development Training Programs in the Boston area to help the women gain financial self-sufficiency. Bridges to Moms at BWH actively collaborates with OB-GYN, Pediatrics, Care Coordination, Primary Care, Psychiatry and Community Health.
Dr. Means’ research has focused on various methods of care, care coordination and resources to improve access to care, health, health literacy, health equity and quality of life for vulnerable or homeless women and children. Dr. Means’ work has shown that addressing social determinants of health, improving collaborations in care coordination and filling-in care gaps can ultimately lower medical costs while also improving health outcomes.
Examining the challenges faced by homeless women needing help accessing timely medical care:
Flike K, Means RH, Chou J, Shi L, Hayman LL. Bridges to Elders: A Program to Improve Outcomes for Older Women Experiencing Homelessness. Health Promot Pract. 2023 Aug 17:15248399231192992. doi: 10.1177/15248399231192992. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37589174.
White Paper: “The Status of Homeless Women in Massachusetts: Are We Adequately Addressing the Social Determinants of Their Health?” Means RH, Rorie J, Mehta P. December 2018, distributed by Health Care Without Walls to local stakeholders and members of the Massachusetts Legislature to promote a deeper understanding of the rising public health crisis of growing numbers of homeless women in MA whose health care and social needs are under under-resourced (2018).
Evaluation of Bridges to Moms: A Mixed Methods Study, 2018.
Blazey-Martin D, Walkey B, Schelling KH, Malfroy-Camine E, Means RH. Curriculum for Novice Providers and Trainees Working in Homeless Shelters for Women. Presented at the American Public Health Association national meeting, November, 2008, San Diego, CA.
Means RH. A primary care approach to treating women without homes. Medscape Womens Health. 2001 Mar;6(2):1. PMID: 11547264