Member's Choice: Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor
Dr. Jim O'Connell, known to his patients as, “Dr.Jim,” has written a book chronicling nearly 35 years of his life providing medical care, hot coffee, and most of all, hope, to those on the streets of Boston. His essays (penned at the Boston Athenæum) not only describe his many patient experiences, but they also investigate the persistent problem of homelessness. Dr. O’Connell will speak about the nature of homelessness in Boston, share his unique perspectives gained from his patients, and show how he has used these lessons to provide innovative health care to vulnerable populations.
A native of Newport, Rhode Island, Dr. Jim O’Connell graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1970 and received a master’s degree in theology from Cambridge University in 1972. After earning an M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1982, he completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. O’Connell began full-time clinical work
with homeless individuals as a founding physician of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) in 1985.
Under his leadership, BHCHP has grown to be a vital and dynamic presence in the continuum of care for poor and marginalized populations in Boston and has pioneered many innovations, including the nation’s first medical respite program in 1985. He currently juggles a clinical role on the program’s street team with his duties as President of BHCHP.
The recipient of many prizes and awards, including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award in 2012 and The Trustees’ Medal at the bicentennial celebration of MGH in 2011, Dr. O’Connell is Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He has lectured internationally,
and his research has been published in a broad array of journals. He lives with his family in Dorchester, Massachusetts.