WCVB-TV Channel 5 Boston / Emily Riemer Reporting / 5 On Your Health
February 16, 2021:
When a loved one is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, the family often wants to be close by. Geography can make that hard, so a local foundation found a solution, with a luxury apartment near every major Boston hospital.
“The journey doesn’t end with transplant at all. It’s just another journey,” Patrick Sullivan said.
Sullivan is living that journey. He underwent a heart transplant in 2012 and in 2014, decided to give back. He co-founded the HeartBrothers Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping heart failure patients and their families.
They checked in with Boston hospitals to see where they could contribute and learned there was a significant need.
“The No. 1 thing was low-cost housing, short-term for patients,” Sullivan said.
Heart failure and transplant patients often have multiple hospital visits every week and if an overnight stay is necessary, the costs can add up quickly.
Last fall, HeartBrothers Foundation found a solution at Church Park Apartments in the Back Bay. The chief financial officer of the company that manages the property is also a heart transplant recipient. When the pandemic led to vacancies, he offered an apartment for the foundation’s use.
“So we said ‘Let’s go for this.’ All those things that you would want: amenities, you have doormen wiping so it’s clean, wiping the elevators,” Sullivan said.
The foundation works with social workers at Tufts Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital to identify families who might benefit and offers them an apartment for $30 a night, including parking.
“It gave us a place to work and decompress. Majorly decompress,” said Julie Kobold.
Kobold stayed in the apartment last fall while one of her daughters, Grace, underwent her second heart transplant at Tufts. They live on Cape Cod, so being able to stay less than a mile from Grace meant so much.
“We’re in a family crisis and to have space where we can be together, process, come back, and just exhale after a long day at the hospital, was like a gift we didn’t know we needed,” said Grace’s sister, Madeleine Kobold.
Grace Kobold is now at home recovering. HeartBrothers Foundation opened a second apartment last month and they hope to add two more this year.