My heart fell in love with Dr. Jim O’Connell as we talked about his work with the homeless in and around Boston. He serves as the President of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program and is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Jim is also the subject of an inspiring new book, Rough Sleepers, written by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author Tracy Kidder.
Jim O’Connell, MD (he/him), serves as the President of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program and is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. O’Connell received his medical degree from Harvard University in 1982 and completed residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1985, he began full-time clinical work with homeless individuals as the founding physician of the program. He established the nation’s first medical respite program in 1985, with 25 beds nested within the Lemuel Shattuck Shelter. Working with the MGH Laboratory of Computer Science, Dr. O’Connell designed and implemented the nation’s first computerized medical record for a homeless program.
Dr. O’Connell served as the National Program Director of the Homeless Families Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Dr. O’Connell is the editor of The Health Care of Homeless Persons: A Manual of Communicable Diseases and Common Problems in Shelters and on the Streets. His articles have appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Circulation, the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of Clinical Ethics, and several other medical journals. His first book, Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor, was published in 2015 and featured on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
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