In 1987, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) cases were mounting in King County and the rest of the country. AIDS was rapidly becoming a part of more people's lives. Friends or family members were being diagnosed; children were being born with AIDS; 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 having to handle all the potential 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 persons 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.