‘Saint Of Boston’ Has Treated City’s Homeless For Three Decades

‘Saint Of Boston’ Has Treated City’s Homeless For Three Decades


. FOR 30 YEARS THE BOSTON HEALTHCARE FOR THE HOMELESS PROGRAM HAS GONE INTO THE STREETS OF BOSTON TO TREAT OUR MOST VULNERABLE IT IS NOW THE LARGEST STANDS ALONE HEALTHCARE PROGRAM FOR THE HOMELESS IN THE COUNTRY. OUR GUEST TONIGHT HELPED FOUND THAT ORGANIZATION BACK IN 1985. DR. JIM O’CONNELL HAS BEEN DUBBED THE SAINT OF BOSTON AND HE JOINS US TONIGHT TO TALK ABOUT HIS NEW MEMOIRS STORIES FROM THE SHADOWS. THANKS FOR BEING WITH US. TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT THE SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM IS THAT YOUR ORGANIZATION WORKS WITH EVERY DAY. OUR PROGRAM IS DESIGNED TO TRY TO REACH OUT TO TAKE CARE OF HOMELESS PEOPLE WHEREVER THEY ARE IN THE CITY OF BOSTON. IT WAS STARTED AS A CITY PROGRAM BACK IN 1985 AND THE GOAL WAS TO GET THE DOCTORS AND NURSES AND FOLKS OUT OF CLINICS AND OUT TO WHERE HOMELESS PEOPLE WERE. ON THE ASSUMPTION IF WE WAITED FOR THEM TO COME TO US IT WAS TOO LATE. SO WE DO THE CLINICS AND SHELTER S MOST OF THE MAJOR SHELTERS IN TOWN FAMILY AND ADULT SHELTERS WE HAVE CLINICS AT BOSTON MEDICAL CENTER AND MASS GENERAL HOSPITALS WE ALSO RUN 104 BED McGINNIS HOUSE WHICH IS A RESPITE PROGRAM HOMELESS PEOPLE TOO ILL TO BE ON THE STREETS OR IN THE SHELTERS BUT DON’T NEED TO BE IN THE HOSPITAL ANYMORE. YOU ALSO GO RIGHT INTO THE STREETS AND TREAT PEOPLE THERE. YOU TOLD AN ANECDOTE IN THE MEMOIR FIND A COMMUNITIES OF PEOPLE UNDERNEATH COPLEY SQUARE. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THAT. PINE STREET RUNS THIS REMARKABLE OUTREACH VAN EVERY NIGHT OF THE YEAR FROM 9:00 AT NIGHT TILL 5:00 IN THE MORNING I’VE BEEN BLESSED TO RIDE ON THAT A COUPLE OF NIGHTS A WEIGH WEEK. YOU LEARN THESE MYSTERIOUS PLACES PEOPLE ARE. THE STORY I WAS TELLING IN THE BOOK WAS WE HAD NOT BEEN AWARE THERE ARE ABOUT 30 PEOPLE LIVING IN THE TUNNELS UNDER COPLEY SQUARE. WHERE AMTRAK GOES WHERE THE M B TA GOES NETWORK OF INTRIGUING OPPORTUNITIES AND PEOPLE WERE LIVING DOWN THERE I HAD BEEN WORKING FOR TEN YEARS ON THE STREETS NEVER HAD A CLUE. FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE WATCHING ABOUT TO HIT WINTER WHEN IT’S VERY COLD. DIFFERENT PEOPLE PASS BY HOMELESS PEOPLE THEY WONDER WHAT THEY CAN ACTUALLY DO. WHAT IS REALLY HELPFUL FOR A HOMELESS PERSON THEY ENCOUNTER. THE POST IMPORTANT THING I THINK YOU CAN DO IS JUST LOOK SOMEONE IN THE EYE AND ACKNOWLEDGE THEM. WE OFTEN WONDER ABOUT DO YOU GIVE MOPE DO YOU NOT GIVE MONEY THOSE QUESTIONS I THINK TORTURE ALL OF US. I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE RIGHT ANSWER IS. BARBARA McGINNIS A NURSE WHO TAUGHT ME EVERYTHING I KNOW BACK IN THE BEGINNING. USED TO SUGGEST THAT YOU PICK ONE PERSON THAT YOU CAN GIVE SOMETHING TO GIVE A CUP OF COFFEE GIVE A DUNKIN’ DONUTS CARD HAVE A CHAT. DO IT CONSISTENTLY OVER TIME. NO WHAT HAPPENS IN SINGLE EPISODE BUT CONSISTENCY AND PRESENCE. YOU HAVE YOUR MEDICAL BAG YOU TAKE OUT INTO THE FIELD. YOU’VE PAIRED IT DOWN OVER THE YEARS. CAN YOU SHOW US THE TRANSCRIPT. SURE IN THE OLD DAYS WE WOULD BRING LOTS OF STUFF BANDAGES AND ALL THE THINGS YOU WOULD THINK OF FORCE FIRST AID. WE’VE BEEN PRETTY MUCH ABLE TO PARE THAT DOWN. SO THIS IS ABOUT ALL WE CARRY RIGHT NOW. IN IT ARE SOME KEY THINGS. YOU KNOW, LITTLE EMBARRASSING YOU KNOW IT’S A STETHESCOPE WHICH IS VERY KEY AND STILL CARRY THAT. BUT WE’VE LEARNED ON THE STREETS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU NEED TO KNOW IS IF SOMEBODY IS SICK OR NOT SICK ESPECIALLY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. WE’VE GOT — THIS WAS DONE BY NURSE PRACTITIONER AND PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS MANY YEARS AGO. WE HAVE A SIMPLE BLOOD PRESSURE CUFF YOU PUT ON THE WRIST. YOU HAVE A THERMOMETER YOU STICK IN THE EAR IT TELLS US YOUR TEMPERATURE. THERE’S EVEN A LITTLE. THIS IS A LITTLE THING CALLED AN OBJECTION SIM THEY ARE YOU CAN PUT THIS ON YOUR FINGERTIP TELL HOW MANY OXYGEN. WITHOUT TAKING ANYBODY’S CLOTHES OFF YOU CAN GETS A LOT OF REALLY VITAL TRIAGE INFORMATION WHETHER PEOPLE ARE SICK OR NOT. THESE HAVE BECOME THE MAINSTAY ALONG WITH WHAT I WON’T SHOW YOU DUNKIN’ DONUTS CARDS THINGS THAT CAN WIN PEOPLE OVER. YOU SAY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING DEALING WITH THE HOMELESS IS NOT TO JUDGE. PEOPLE THAT YOU SEE ON THE STREETS AND CAN’T QUITE FIGURE OUT WHAT’S GOING ON IF YOU EVER GET THE CHANCE TO GET TO KNOW THEM OVER TIME YOU FIND THAT MOST OF THEM HAVE REMARKABLE STORIES WHERE THEY HAVE LIVED THROUGH UNSPEAKABLE TRAUMA BEEN DEALT A REALLY BAD HANDS. BUT THEY REALLY ARE LIVING RELATIVELY COURAGEOUSLY DESPITE ALL THAT. I THINK MOST OF US WOULD BE BROKEN BY WHAT THEY LIVE THROUGH. FANTASTIC MESSAGE THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR WHAT YOU DO DOCTOR.

4 Replies to “‘Saint Of Boston’ Has Treated City’s Homeless For Three Decades”

  1. House çalls without the house , thanks Doc for showing all of us what a little determination mixed with compassion , can do. People líke you , Dr. O'Connell, are the true heroes of this World. #thanks4caring

  2. I worked with Dr. O'Connell in the streets for many years as a psychiatric social worker. He is a good man and the mission of Boston Health Care for the Homeless is nothing short of inspirational. I think Dr. O'Connell, however, would humbly agree that the real "saint"s are oftentimes the homeless who teach and give to us more than we to them.

  3. I am blessed to be a patient of dr. James O'Connell he is truly a saint. And all of us that know and love him call him dr. Jim we look forward to him walking the streets on Friday mornings just to get a few moments to talk to him because everyone's trying to talk to him all the time he's a very busy man but he's the best listener. If it wasn't for meeting dr. Jim I wouldn't have gotten sober I wouldn't have reunited with my family I wouldn't have being in an apartment today I wouldn't have gotten mental health care and addiction treatment these people that make up Boston healthcare for the homeless that work with dr. Jim also the street team are very dedicated wonderful determined miracle workers dr. Munson Dr bonnar dr. Kevin Sullivan Katie Swanson Michael Jellison Beckie tachick there's so many others but those are the people that I meant that I'm the closest to and then that have paved the way for me to get sober and into housing and my family back today#the streets team saved me, Pine Street Inn not only has many shelters but they're also have many housing locations and I know them not for their shelters but for their many vans that ride around every single night 365 days of the year with dr. Jim riding on Monday nights passing out blankets soup hot cocoa socks water to the people that are actually sleeping on the street the real Street people as dr. Jim says.. And I was one of those people and I am so thankful for the street team for coming into my life and saving it.⚕❣✝❣⚕❣✝❣⚕🌬🌬🌬

  4. My hats off . . . to this Saint of Boston. I was once was homeless . . . on the streets of Boston and know only too well what winter weather can be . . . and its' effect, on the homeless whom sleep on its' streets ! WE ARE ALL . . . only a few paychecks, from being homeless !

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