Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor

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Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, 2015 - Homeless persons - 186 pages
Dr. O'Connell's collection of stories and essays, written during thirty years of caring for homeless persons in Boston, gently illuminates the humanity and raw courage of those who struggle to survive and find meaning and hope while living on the streets.

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Providing medical care to patients who are disruptive, entitled, uncooperative, self-destructive, aggressive, unreasonable and otherwise difficult is very taxing work. Many have few resources outside the hospital and many times it's because they have burned bridges to otherwise useful options.
It is frankly quite easy to lose track of the patient's humanity.
This book is the treatment for that shortcoming.
Dr. O'Connell unassumingly and matter-of-factly gets us to know patients like these that he has cared for. Cared for with a capital "C". He shows us authentic, non-malicious, struggling humans who have suffered greatly throughout life and who are as worthy of dignity and respect as any other human. He doesn't ponder free will and responsibility. He respects their dignity and he helps them.
Visible without description is the author's tremendous humility, integrity, patience, generosity and work ethic. This book has changed my life.
 

About the author (2015)

A native of Newport, Rhode Island, 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 in 1985.

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