Helping the homeless this week — and next



Thanksgiving season is the time of year when many of us pitch in to help the homeless.

Dr. Jim O’Connell and his team of doctors and nurses will still be helping them next week and the week after that.

You’ve heard of street preachers. O’Connell is a street doctor. He runs the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP). He and his staff treat men and women not only at shelters and soup kitchens, but also on the streets where they’ve lived in subway tunnels or under highway bridges, sometimes for decades. His staff understands that such chronically homeless men and women, no matter how sick, might never come inside to them.

He calls his “outdoor” patients “rough sleepers,” like the dazed young woman who stopped him in his clinic hall the other afternoon. She was near tears. She said her buddies had gone off and left her. She had no money. She had no blankets or shelter bed for the night and temperatures would get down to freezing. Her $3 cell phone wouldn’t work, though it wasn’t clear whom she might call for help if it did. And she had a raw, painful infection.

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