In 1987, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) cases were mounting in King County, as they were in the rest of the U.S. At that time, the disease was considered fatal. Hospitals balked at the prospect of having to handle all the potential cases, while individuals, government medical programs, and insurance companies cringed at having to pay hospital costs of $600 to $800 a day. Yet for more and more people, AIDS was becoming a part of their lives. Friends or family members were diagnosed; children were born with AIDS; loved ones were dying; and people's hearts froze when their own blood tested positive for HIV.
For Betsy Lieberman, these aspects of the AIDS crisis-as well as a close friend being diagnosed with HIV-came together when she was deciding what to do next after a long and successful career as clinic coordinator of the Pike Place Market Community Clinic. At that time, the seriousness of the epidemic had become so obvious, and the federal government's response was so slow, that a few far-sighted foundations were beginning to fund innovative approaches to service delivery. Ms. Lieberman heard about a job funded by one small piece of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant, which was earmarked to plan for the housing and long-term care needs of persons with AIDS, and the spark for Bailey-Boushay House was ignited. Bailey-Boushay House was named after Thatcher Bailey and his partner Frank Boushay, who died of AIDS in 1989.