Hope from Heartbreak
Gift Brings Resources and Compassion to Those Suffering from Addiction
Gay Crowley remembers her nephew, Tim, as a vibrant young man. “He was bright, well-educated, and handsome, like a Brooks Brothers ad,” she says. Tim was a college graduate and a, business and home owner, who seemed to have it all together. He also struggled with addiction.
Tim’s suicide in February of 2017 left his family and friends devastated and searching for answers. “Tim desperately wanted to stop drinking,” says Crowley, but he was struggling to maintain his sobriety. The tipping point for him came in the wake of the 10-year anniversary of his father’s death. “My nephew knew he needed a medical detoxification facility, as withdrawal had caused him to suffer debilitating seizures in the past,” explains Crowley. Tim turned to his brother, asking him to drive him to a hospital to seek help. Together they visited various emergency rooms, however they were continuously turned away or simply offered a list of detoxification centers to try calling. “They tried hospital after hospital,” recalls Crowley, “but nobody wanted to deal with another addict.” Tim’s brother experienced firsthand the rejection and discrimination confronted by addicts, and Tim himself expressed that he could not go through such judgement again. Within days, he had taken his own life.
“I truly believe that he was trying his very best to fight this demon, but addiction is a powerful disease and its stigma is difficult to overcome,” says Crowley. “In the end, I think rejection brought Tim to a point of desperation.” Determined to find a way to help other families, Crowley devoted herself to researching addiction support, treatment, and recovery. “I feel strongly that if Tim went to an emergency room with an addiction coach and a staff that had been educated on how to treat him with dignity—not as if his addiction was a choice—well, his outcome might have been different.”
I truly believe that he was trying his very best to fight this demon, but addiction is a powerful disease and its stigma is difficult to overcome.
In memory of her beloved nephew, Crowley made a meaningful $155,000 gift to establish a pilot program in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Emergency Department (ED) that will enable its staff to respond in an organized, caring, and thoughtful way towards individuals battling addiction. The innovative pilot program will fund a peer recovery initiative in the ED overseen by senior social worker Leslie Bosworth, M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W.; a physician education curriculum led by Bosworth and Kevin Hill, M.D., M.H.S.; and resources for patients, including cell phones and transportation to detoxification facilities.
“This innovative, evidence-based program will make BIDMC a leader in providing clinical care for patients with substance use disorders and allows us to think about prevention as part of our public health mission,” says Barbara Sarnoff-Lee, senior director of social work and patient/family engagement at BIDMC. Adds Bosworth: “We are committed to treating every single patient who enters our doors with utmost dignity and respect, and this incredible gift will go a long way in allowing us to do just that.”
Crowley is looking forward to the meaningful impact this pilot program and resources will make on the lives of BIDMC patients. “Too many people like Tim are suffering, and their families are suffering too,” says Crowley. “We have an incredible opportunity here to show compassion and create a significant and sustainable change in the world.