Medical Care for the Homeless

stories-from-the-shadows-bookcover-1-_custom-a4c93d1b8302f8a265cf31327fd122425549e366-s400-c85NPR’s Fresh Air featured Dr. James O’Connell, president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program on Tuesday, in a discussion about providing medical care for the homeless population.

O’Connell’s new memoir, Stories From the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor, is available to purchase from the organization’s site but is not currently on wholesaler catalogs. For a small non-profit press book it is doing remarkably well. It is already #118 on Amazon’s sales rankings.

O’Connell tells host Terry Gross that he and his colleagues are visiting patients “in their homes, which are often under bridges, down back alleyways [and] on park benches.”

He urges people not to judge his patients and talks about learning to care for the homeless, the horrors they face, and the toll undiagnosed, untreated illness has.

O’Connell shares details of what amounts to Third World illness as the result of a lack of treatment, from a man who lost both feet from auto-amputation due to the end stages of frostbite and the symptoms of AIDS neglected for lack of treatment.

He says “If you are caring for a homeless population, you are really seeing the really both exotic illnesses as well as the end stages of chronic, common illnesses.”

O’Connell offers new insight into an issue that also affects libraries.

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