The Grow Clinic is an outpatient clinic at Boston Medical Center that provides comprehensive medical care, nutritional guidance, and social services for children diagnosed with Failure to Thrive (FTT) or malnutrition. Children with FTT may develop persistent growth failure, increased risk of illness, and delayed learning and language skills. Although hunger may be the root cause, there are many other underlying factors that contribute to malnutrition, such as poverty, illness, and inadequate housing and education. Unfortunately, these are factors that weigh heavily on BMC patients, as seventy percent of our patients come from underserved populations, including low-income families, elders, people with disabilities, and immigrants. In fact, about ten percent of our children are homeless and live in shelters.
Food is crucial but insufficient treatment needed for Grow Clinic patients. Without it, they fall into a malnutrition-infection cycle that will not break. With the proper nutrition at home and in school, Boston’s hungriest children become healthy and strong. Our team believes in treating the entire patient, not just their symptom of hunger; therefore, the Grow Clinic offers more than just medical care. Other outreach services include home visits, nutritional and legal counseling, and referrals to community programs. In addition, the Grow Clinic, together with Boston Medical Center, operates a unique hospital-based food pantry for patients in need of supplemental nutrition. The Food Pantry serves nearly 7,000 people each month, including over 2,500 children.
The Grow Clinic depends on private philanthropic support for more than two-thirds of its funding. Support for the Grow Clinic helps to ensure good health and well-being among our tiniest and most fragile young patients.
Deborah A. Frank MD
Director, Grow Clinic for Children, Boston Medical Center