James O’Connell, MD
Welcome and thanks for your interest in BHCHP!
Every day, our incredible staff of clinicians and professionals commit themselves to provide the highest quality health care services possible to some of the most vulnerable members of our community – Boston’s homeless individuals and families of all ages. I am so proud to serve alongside them in caring for those subsisting on the fringes of our society.
When I think back to the beginning of BHCHP, to that winter of 1984, I recall then-Mayor Raymond Flynn convening a broad coalition of shelter and social service agencies, city and state representatives, hospital and health care leaders, and a feisty group of homeless persons and advocates. They were responding to a grant proposal by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. From these often-raucous meetings at City Hall emerged a commitment to social justice and a dream of assuring that every poor and homeless individual and family in Boston would have access to excellent and compassionate care—- delivered within a continuous network of clinics in shelters and on the streets as well as in the hospitals and in our medical respite program. That simple vision, augmented in the past several years by a commitment to equity and justice, has defined our mission and remained our North Star for almost four decades.
These ensuing years have been marked by tremendous growth and innovation. What started with a staff of eight individuals has blossomed to a team of more than 600 staff delivering clinical and respite care in 30 locations in shelters, hospitals and on the street stretching across the city of Boston and beyond. We offer comprehensive medical, dental, psychiatric, and addictions services while tackling complex problems in ways we could only dream about in the early days. We continue to seek new ways to meet the needs of the people we serve who experience the daily trauma of homelessness and we gladly share our knowledge broadly.
I’m astounded at the realization that I’ve been with BHCHP for nearly four decades! Despite heartache and hardship, the work has never disappointed me. The medicine has been challenging and complex and our patients have shown more courage and resilience than I ever expected. The gratitude we receive moves us every day.
I want to personally thank all of our BHCHP community, from our state and city partners, to our friends in local shelters and hospitals and to you, for your support over the years – you have been instrumental in making it possible for us to reach nearly 11,000 patients each year. Until there is a cure for homelessness, we will continue to rely on your charitable donations and we remain most grateful for your generosity, support and friendship.
Jim O’Connell, MD