Tufts Medicine Care at Home has a very rich history and can trace its roots back to 1895, a time when the area’s first “district nursing program” was established through Lawrence General Hospital to provide nursing care at home to the mill-working families of Lawrence, Methuen, and North Andover. Financing for the program came from the City Mission, a charitable organization in the city of Lawrence.
Around the same time, the city of Malden was also forming their own community nursing program. The Community Nursing Association was founded in 1899 as the city hired a trained nurse, Miss Ella A. Myers, to perform community nursing. The development of the Association was in response to an industrial fire some years earlier, which spurred community leaders to rally around those impacted by the accident, and which eventually led to the development of a day nursery and community visiting nursing some years later.
As other cities were forming home visiting nurse programs, notably in Boston, Philadelphia and New York, in the city of Lowell, a private corporation called the Locks and Canals (charged with regulating the flow of the Merrimack River) funded the Middlesex Women’s Club in 1908 and requested they begin their home nursing program. Two nurses were hired, Miss Katherine Walsh and Miss Blanche M. Craven.
Health conditions at the turn of the century were poor compared with today’s standards. Diphtheria, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and high infant mortality were rampant and were fueled by poverty, a lack of knowledge, poor sanitation, and hygiene. Thus, the nurses of the day played a key role in teaching proper hygiene, food storage, and cleanliness. They truly were the first community “medical social workers” in addition to performing nursing practice.
In subsequent years, the Visiting Nurses in Lawrence, Lowell, and Malden expanded their service areas to be able to impact on a wider population. Rehabilitation therapists, social workers, and home health aides joined nurses as a member of the clinical team. Collectively, we have been providing care through events that changed local, national, world and medical history, such as disasters, epidemics, the arrival of successive waves of immigrants, the Great Depression, world wars and returning veterans, the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, growth of healthcare knowledge and treatment over the last century.
Today, Tufts Medicine Care at Home is comprised of both hospice and home health providers, delivering care to people of all ages in their homes, in facilities, and with a wide variety of diagnoses and needs. Our care teams travel to homes in southern Maine, southern and eastern New Hampshire and eastern Massachusetts. Home Health Foundation became a proud member of Tufts Medicine in 2018 and is partnering with our hospital and physician providers on new and innovative programs as healthcare continues to change and care in the home becomes ever more important.