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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Women's treatment center to be named for Kitty Dukakis

kitty%20dukakis85.bmpTomorrow morning a new women’s shelter in Jamaica Plain will be named in honor of former Massachusetts first lady Kitty Dukakis (left) for her work to open a shelter 24 years ago and for her personal advocacy since then.

The Kitty Dukakis Treatment Center for Women is a 32-bed center at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital for women who have gone through detox but are in the early stages of recovering from addiction. The center opened in January and is expected to treat 300 women a year. Its 28-day program includes counseling on substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and HIV.

"This is way beyond a shelter. This is a shelter dedicated to women who have both drug and alcohol issues, and many of them trauma also," Dukakis said in an interview. "It’s an excellent program and I am thrilled to be honored this way."

In 1983, when Michael Dukakis was returning to office for a second term as governor, he identified homelessness as a major problem. His wife founded The Friends of the Shattuck Shelter, now known as hopeFound, which opened an emergency shelter for men and women.

Mary Nee, executive director of hopeFound, said naming the new shelter after Dukakis was an easy decision to make.

"She has been a leading advocate for addiction and mental health treatment, two conditions found in the vast majority of homeless women we serve," Nee said in a statement.

In 1990 Dukakis came forward with her own story of addiction to alcohol and diet pills, and last year she wrote a book with former Globe medical reporter Larry Tye about her experiences with electroconvulsive therapy for her disabling depression.

"I think as a person in recovery I am well aware that for everybody in the United States — and this it true in Massachusetts, too — the opportunities for treatment for people who need it are way down from what they were 25 years ago," she said. "I will continue to advocate for folks to understand that this problem has not gone away."

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 12:18 PM
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