Before Running BHCHP, O’Connell Washed Feet of Boston’s Homeless

The Heights
After Jim O’Connell finished Harvard Medical School and completed a residency at Mass General Hospital, he spent two months washing people’s feet.

On Thursday night, O’Connell, founding physician and current president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP), gave a lecture as part of the Park Street Corporation Speaker Series on his experiences as a health care provider to Boston’s homeless population.

After his residency, in the 1980s, O’Connell was assigned to work at a nurse’s clinic for the Pine Street Inn shelter. Through continuation and expansion of his work at the clinic, O’Connell eventually transitioned from washing feet to providing a variety of care  for homeless people throughout Boston, including riding from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. in a Pine Street Inn van on Mondays and Wednesdays, looking for homeless people who might need help.

His lecture, titled “Lessons from the Streets: Three Decades Caring for Boston’s Rough Sleepers,” highlighted his experiences medically serving the inner-city homeless for the past 30 years.

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