Quiet, Present, Consistent Care: Lessons On Medicine From Treating The Homeless
The man known as “Boston’s doctor to the homeless” has spent 30 years offering hot coffee, warm blankets and medical care to souls left on the streets.
Now, Dr. Jim O’Connell, co-founder and president of Boston Health Care for the Homeless, has written a book of essays about his experiences, “Stories from the Shadows.” As he writes:
These are the lives I’ve stumbled upon, not orderly or reasoned and not the way lives are supposed to be. Many would challenge the patience of Job and make us wonder whether any loving God would allow such serendipity; Lives with more questions than answers, lives shrouded in the mysteries of fate and genetics, but as I write now into the early morning hours I find richness and a fulfillment I can’t quite explain. I have always had an irrational fear of boredom and ennui and these wonderfully erratic pilgrims have protected me from any hint of complacency or routine.
Unfortunately, the problem of homeless doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. As he told us, “It’s more than we’ve ever seen before, at a time when we had hoped the numbers would be going radically down.”
- “In fact, O’Connell prefers not to work alongside self-proclaimed saints and zealots. Too taxing. Instead, he wants to work with regular people. And that’s how he treats his patients – the ‘rough sleepers’ – whom he treats from Pine Street Inn’s van, or at an all-day clinic at Mass. General Hospital, or under the bridges and on the steam grates of Boston.”
Other stories from this show:
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