Peabody is a sprawling city known for many things, including its reputation as a North Shore shopping destination and the business, biotech, and other firms that call the city home.
But Peabody is also known as something else: a hub for health, from Lahey Medical Center and Boston Children’s at Peabody to social service organizations like Citizens Inn to the city’s beautiful green spaces, like the 8-mile Independence Greenway bike path and rail trail and the city-owned and -operated Brooksby Farm.
One of the city’s most important social service organizations is Citizens Inn, which in July 2017 merged with Haven from Hunger to create a single organization that aims to break the cycle and stigma of hunger and homelessness with a food pantry, housing services, career training, and other programs. “Those programs are critical [for people], from fixed-income seniors to low-income families to people living on the streets of Peabody,” says Corey Jackson, the executive director of Citizens Inn.
Since the July merger, there have been a lot of changes and improvements at Haven from Hunger, which still operates its food pantry and community meal program at 71 Wallis Street. Jackson says more than 100 families—and sometimes as many as 130—come through the food pantry each day, and the meal program serves between 30 and 60 people each night.
Jackson says that among the planned improvements are renovations and an expanded dining hall on the second floor, which will provide a more dignified and dedicated dining space and allow the first floor to function exclusively as a food pantry. A commercial kitchen and office spaces for professionals like housing coordinators and mental health counselors are also planned, all of which will help clients make the transition out of hunger and homelessness.
“Food insecurity is why they’re entering the pantry, but there’s a host of other issues that are going on with each family that we can help them face in that trusted place,” Jackson says. “It’s not just about food, but about what’s causing the food insecurity.”
Citizens Inn is also in the planning stages of a culinary training program, working with local restaurant partners (from which they already rescue food) to provide real-world training in restaurant kitchens that will ultimately culminate in employment at those restaurants for program graduates. “This is just the beginning,” Jackson says of the job training program.
Photo by Scott Murray
Citizen Inn executive Director Corey Jackson.
Citizens Inn often works with other community partners for its programs. Among them is Lahey Medical Center, which has provided funding to the nonprofit via its J.B. Thomas Lahey Foundation. “I think that’s what really makes our facility special,” says Jeffrey Marx, MD, chief medical officer at Lahey Medical Center, Peabody, and chair of the department of ophthalmology at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. “We have multiple ways of involvement in the community.”
Of course, one of the most critical pieces of involvement is what Lahey Medical Center offers to the city and the surrounding area from a medical perspective. Marx says many other local institutions and health systems require patients to drive into Boston for care. Lahey Medical Center has world-class specialists either based in or practicing in Peabody several times per week. “The broad array of services and the depth of service make Peabody a unique place to get healthcare,” Marx says. “People really do benefit from having their care closer to home.”
For instance, many patients require help from family and friends to get back and forth to appointments, and often require multiple visits. Having comprehensive services in Peabody makes that much easier for people, including seniors. “Healthcare should be delivered, if at all possible, in a local area closer to home,” Marx says. “It improves outcomes; it improves compliance.”
Lahey Medical Center
That’s why it’s so important that Lahey offers so many services in Peabody, including a 24/7 emergency department, the comprehensive Sophia Gordon Cancer Center, imaging and general surgery services, outpatient clinics, and a wide array of medical specialties including allergy, ophthalmology, pulmonology, orthopedics, and more.
Likewise, the world-renowned Boston Children’s Hospital has an extensive home in Peabody on the North Shore, where the same specialists that practice in Boston see patients locally. Boston Children’s at Peabody boasts physicians in more than two dozen specialties, including gastroenterology and orthopedics, plus a full range of on-site radiology and other services like echocardiography, speech therapy, and blood drawing.
It’s no doubt that all of Peabody’s many health and human services organizations will continue to expand, innovate, and improve themselves and the city they call home.
“I think that we at Lahey Peabody are proud to give back to the community in multiple ways, and we’re also proud to provide state-of-the-art care here in the community setting,” Marx says. “We’re committed to continuing that.”
See our Peabody must-do list here.