In the 1980s, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases were mounting in King County and the rest of the country. AIDS was increasingly touching more people's lives. Friends or family members were being diagnosed; children were being born with the disease; loved ones were dying; and people's hearts froze when their own blood tested positive for HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus that can develop into AIDS. At that time, AIDS was considered fatal.
While AIDS cases were rapidly rising, hospitals balked at the prospect of handling all the new cases. At the same time, individuals, government medical programs, and insurance companies were contemplating how to deal with hospital costs of $600 to $800 a day.
For Betsy Lieberman, these aspects of the AIDS crisis — as well as a close friend being diagnosed with HIV — were happening as she was deciding what to do after a long and successful career as clinic coordinator of the Pike Place Market Community Clinic.
At this time, the federal government's response to the epidemic was so slow that a few far-sighted foundations decided to step in and fund innovative approaches to service delivery. Ms. Lieberman received a small stipend from a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant that was earmarked for a health care professional to study the housing and long-term care needs of people with AIDS. The spark for Bailey-Boushay House was ignited and money was eventually raised to make it a reality.
Bailey-Boushay House was named after Thatcher Bailey and his partner Frank Boushay, who died of AIDS in 1989. It was established in 1992 as a place where people with AIDS could find compassionate care and a way to live their last days with dignity.
HIV/AIDS has now evolved from an "always fatal" to a "chronic" disease and Bailey-Boushay House has evolved, too. Today, we are a place of hope and stability for people with AIDS as well as those living with other life-threatening conditions. More than anything, Bailey-Boushay House is a place for people who want to live every day to the fullest in a caring and compassionate community.