By Pat O’Rourke
BU News Service
It’s been two years since One Fund Boston was established to aid victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, and four months since it stopped accepting donations. Yet, the now defunct One Fund continues to give back.
A collaboration between Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, the One Fund Center was launched in October 2014 with the goal of giving victims the treatment they need as they recover from the April 2013 bombing.
“These are all big, wonderful institutions,” said Barbara Thorp, program director at the One Fund Center. “Almost all of the amputees went to Spaulding for care, and people got great care from Mass General and Mass Eye and Ear in the immediate days following the bombing.”
“Now we’re two years out and the hospitals are working together to provide help for the long-term issues,” she said.
A 2014 payout from the One Fund allocated $1.5 million to open the center, with $1 million awarded to Mass General and $500,000 to Mass Eye and Ear. A payout to MGH covered victim expenses that resulted from any of their referrals to Spaulding.
“These wonderful hospitals understand they all have unique contributions to make for people’s recovery,” said Thorp.
While four people were killed by the bombing and 17 people lost limbs, many suffered some hearing loss and lesser injuries, according to Thorp. Some of those injuries were non-physical, such as emotional trauma. In the wake of the bombings, it was hard for many of these victims to seek the help they needed.
The One Fund board found that alarming and sought to help. Like the One Fund itself, the One Fund Center was founded with the goal of helping to stabilize the lives of the victims and aiding their transition to a more normal life. While the Fund provided financial assistance, the Center offers long-term physical and emotional support.
“What the One Fund did was provide the injured and the families of those who died some financial stability,” said One Fund Administrator Kenneth Feinberg. He said this was small solace for many who lost someone in the bombing, but it at least provided some help as victims tried to reconstruct their lives.
The Fund, which ceased operations in December, did “exactly what it was supposed to do,” Feinberg said. Started by former governor Deval Patrick and former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, the Fund raised and distributed approximately $80 million.
“One Fund stands as a noble milestone,” said Feinberg. “A noble reminder of how the community can help innocent victims. But at some point, innocent victims need to move on as best they can.”
The center has had challenges with booking and rescheduling appointments with the weather that hit Boston this past winter leading to cancellations and postponements. Thorp says the center expects more patients when the trial of Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wraps up, as many victims have their attention focused on the trial.
The Center is budgeted for two years of operation during which it will assess its offerings, Thorp said.
“The funding is for two years and were evaluating as we go along,” said Thorp. “It’s something we want to stay on top of, really listening to people and understanding as time passes, some of the things we identified as issues may change.”