“Can we end chronic homelessness?” is the question asked by the latest episode of Better Off , Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s podcast about public health issues and their solutions.
The episode examines homelessness through the lens of health, relying on perspectives from three guests including Maggie Sullivan, a family nurse practitioner at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.
“Being able to ask and answer personal, sensitive questions, even being able to disclose, ‘I’m sleeping in my car,’ or ‘I haven’t eaten since yesterday,’ that takes a high amount of trust. And trust requires a sense of safety,” Sullivan said on the podcast, speaking to BHCHP’s area of expertise: providing health care that emphasizes safety and compassion for patients experiencing homelessness.
Sullivan also provided the podcast the connection to Kimberley Richardson, a therapist based in Greater Boston who experienced homelessness with her family and shared her perspective.
“I remember not knowing what was happening with me, but going to the emergency room, like quite often with chest pains,” Richardson said. “And finally, I was diagnosed with anxiety… I never had it that I knew of in my life until this, you know, this start of being homeless, being pregnant, trying to figure out where I would go with my children.
“When we see people begging for change or they’re living on the streets and we treat them poorly, that person was probably a paycheck away from being homeless,” she continued. “We don’t know people’s stories, so we need to really, really stop being a society that’s so judgmental.”
Better Off host Anna Fisher-Pinkert also gave special thanks to Dr. Jim O’Connell , BHCHP founding physician and president, for “sharing his expertise and valuable insights.”