Beacon Hill Civic Association Community Corner

Health Care in the Streets: Lessons from Three Decades of Caring for Boston’s Rough Sleepers – Jan. 17, at the BHCA

The Beacon Hill Civic Association is very pleased to have Dr. Jim O’Connell speak at the Beacon Hill Civic Association, 74 Joy Street, on Jan. 17, at 7:00 p.m.

Dr. O’Connell, president and founding physician of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, will share his experience and knowledge with us, so that we can all have a greater understanding of this important issue. This activity is free and open to the public.

Dr. O’Connell has been taking care of his patients in homeless shelters, clinics, and on the streets of Boston for over 30 years.  Much to his chagrin, he has been called a saint. His patients simply call him “Dr. Jim.” Armed with a backpack filled with medical supplies, new athletic socks, and Dunkin’ gift cards, he and his team comb the streets of Boston, making house calls wherever his patients find themselves—under bridges, down alleyways, in parks — and every Thursday at his bustling clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital.  

Dr. O’Connell graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame, received a master’s degree in theology from Cambridge University, earned an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and completed his residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1985.

That same year, Dr. 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 2005, BHCHP began a capital campaign and with the help of many friends, transformed the former Boston city morgue into the organization’s home at 780 Albany Street in the South End.

In addition to his busy clinical practice, Dr. O’Connell is well known for pioneering many innovations in homeless medicine.  He is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award and theTrustees’ Medal at the bicentennial celebration of Massachusetts General Hospital.  An internationally acclaimed speaker on homeless medicine, he has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and CBS Evening News and is the author of “Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor,” a collection of stories and essays written during 30 years of caring for homeless persons in Boston.

Giving Back to our Community

Please remember that the BHCA is collecting warm clothing and food items for two local organizations important to the Beacon Hill community.  

For Boston Health Care for the Homeless, we are collecting new and gently-used coats, boots and backpacks.  Of special need this season are children’s coats, boots and backpacks.   We are also collecting new gloves, hats, socks, underwear and balaclavas (hooded facemasks).   Donation checks made payable to “Boston Health Care for the Homeless” are also welcome.   

 For the West End Library Food Pantry, we are collecting nonperishable food items (popular items include cereal, tea and peanut butter).  Grocery store gift cards are also greatly appreciated.   A collaboration with Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), the West End Library Food Pantry serves Beacon Hill and West End low income residents and elderly. 

The clothing and food drives run through Jan. 31.   Items can be dropped off weekdays at the BHCA, 74 Joy Street.  Items for the food pantry can also be dropped off year round at the West End Library at 151 Cambridge Street.   Thank you in advance for your contributions!

Upcoming BHCA Meetings

Monday, Jan. 14:

Architecture Committee Meeting. 5 p.m. 74 Joy Street. 

Board of Directors Meeting. 7 p.m. 74 Joy Street.

Other upcoming BHCA Events

47th Annual Beacon Hill Gala – Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Omni Parker House

Visit the Beacon Hill Civic Association website or call the office (617-227-1922) for more information on any of these events.

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