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OMEGA HOUSE

In 1986 Eleanor Munger, a retired 76-year-old Montessori schoolteacher, was visiting patients at Jeff Davis hospital with other members of Christ Church Cathedral. While there she encountered a group of patients that had been diagnosed with the newly identified HIV virus. Instructed to not visit them she wanted to know more. They were mostly gay white males, horrifically sick. Their resources spent on medical bills, many had been ostracized because they were gay and because of the disease. It was so terrible that even some members of the hospital staff would avoid contact with them, but they had no place else to go and would stay there until they died.

She approached Christ Church Cathedral about creating a safe and caring environment for people living through the final stages of HIV/AIDS. The initial request was denied but a Deacon gave her the initial seed money of $10,000.

Her courageous pioneering effort became Omega House, the first residential hospice in Texas, a safe haven for terminally ill AIDS patients. It opened as a four-bed, entirely volunteer-run home for people who could no longer be helped by the traditional medical community, and often had no family or loved ones to care for them in their final days.

Dr Robert Awe, the medical director over pulmonary at Ben Taub Hospital, saw many of the HIV patients with Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP.) He volunteered to train the volunteers and became the doctor on call.

The concept of hospice was relatively new, Omega House applied and received the first license with the state of Texas - License #0001 for a Special Care Facility. During this same time Bering Memorial United Methodist Church was also feeling the negative impact that HIV/AIDS was having on the community as well as its congregation. Holding several funerals a week for those lost to the disease motivated them to action. The Bering Community Services Foundation was their response to some of the most critical problems caused by the epidemic and offered patients infected with HIV/AIDs a dedicated dental clinic, an adult day care center, and a spiritual support network.

In 1999, the two agencies joined forces to offer a holistic approach to care for those living with HIV/AIDS and formed Bering Omega Community Services. The consolidation of these two well-established and highly respected HIV/AIDS service providers enabled Bering Omega Community Services to offer a wide range of healthcare and social services through a seamless delivery system for indigent, under-served and disenfranchised clients in the greater Houston Area.

Bering Omega Website (in 2016 they became Avenue 360)
Eleanor Munger Obituary