By Seth Daniel
City and Boston Medical Center (BMC) staff were enthusiastic on Monday morning, March 6, when a $25 million gift was announced publicly that will establish the BMC Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine – with officials dreaming of scenarios whereby the research at the Center could some day develop a medication that would prevent addiction.
The gift came from John and Eilene Grayken, both of Boston, who decided they wanted to make a substantial gift to address the opioid epidemic in the City and the nation.
“I have personal experience with this disease and know what it does to people,” said Eilene Grayken, a theatre producer in Boston. “It does not discriminate between gender, class, race or background. It’s important to make this problem known and destigmatize it. This is not a choice; it’s a disease. For me to participate by giving this gift is a totally worthy investment. This gift is in no safer hands than the people at this extraordinary place.”
BMC, already an international leader in research, teaching, and clinical programming on substance use disorders and their consequences, announced the gift will address the most pressing public health crisis of our time.
The gift is the largest donation in BMC’s history and the biggest private gift in the US in the last decade for addiction treatment and medicine. It will be used to create the BMC Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine. Those in attendance for the ceremony in BMC’s Shapiro Building were CEO Kate Walsh, the Grayken family, Senator Edward J. Markey, Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin J. Walsh, among others.
“The bold goal of the BMC Grayken Center is to be the premier health institution transforming creative programs into groundbreaking clinical care innovations and prevention strategies, driving efforts to end the crisis,” said Kate Walsh. “As a leading academic institution shaping public policy on addiction disease treatment, the BMC Grayken Center team will train leaders in the field to disseminate proven approaches from these programs around the world.”
The new Grayken Center builds on BMC’s long history as one of the most comprehensive and influential treatment centers for addictions in the country, with tailored programs for the spectrum of types of patient and care settings.
Sen. Ed Markey, who has been in public office for 40 years, said he has never seen anything like the opiate epidemic.
“There’s never been an issue like this that I’ve seen in my 40-year career,” he said. “This gift and the creation of the Grayken Center is just a game changer…We could not be more grateful.”
The Grayken Center’s mission will focus on three aspects of addiction medicine:
- Research – The Grayken Center will increase the pace of innovative research at BMC, already one of the most highly respected addictions research programs in the country, with a body of published work that has transformed addiction care. It will enable further multi-disciplinary research on new approaches examining innovative care models.
- Treatment –The Grayken Center will increase BMC’s reach in developing and testing new care models, bringing together experts to establish metrics against which outcomes can be tracked and more advanced data and analytics infrastructure developed.
- Training and Prevention –The Grayken Center will join with key government agencies and lawmakers to reduce barriers to addiction treatment. It will expand existing training programs for doctors, nurses and other clinicians on addiction medicine, and will develop educational materials for prescribers.
Over its 25-year history of leadership in addictions medicine, BMC created the first-in-the-nation program providing addiction care in the patient’s primary care office, which has had a remarkable 67 percent success rate regionally and been replicated in 35 states. These programs have been further tailored for special populations including adolescents and pregnant women. The hospital also created among the first ER-based and urgent care opioid treatment programs in the country. A program connecting hospital inpatients with addiction services has reduced ER visits for those patients by 30 percent. The hospital has also created groundbreaking addictions medicine residency and fellowship programs for doctors-in-training and provides extensive peer-to-peer training for clinicians around the country. It is the recipient of significant federal grant funding for its addictions research.
Cohasset native John Grayken is founder and chairman of Lone Star Funds, a global private equity firm. The couple, along with their four children, currently reside in Boston.