This site chronicles the vast majority of my professional life in one way or another. It’s easy to track my wanderings here, and most of how I spend my time is a pretty open book. However, a couple evenings a month, removed from much of this world, I grab my stethoscope and go see patients at a local family shelter. It’s one of the things I most look forward to in my week, and it gives me the opportunity to take care of patients, which is magical.
As often happens, making my way home from my office gig I turned on NPR, and Terry Gross had Dr. James O’Connell on as her guest. He’s a physician who is president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, and has also written a new memoir, Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor. Once again, I found myself sitting in the car in front of my house so I could listen to the rest of the interview. I was particularly struck by his comments about nursing, and the lessons he’s learned. But I found this interview compelling on numerous fronts, in no small part because his patients are the patients I also see several evenings a month. And because they are many of the forensic patients we all see, as he discusses at one point in the interview when he talks about trauma and homeless women in particular. It is at once a completely unvarnished and yet really elegant discussion of delivering healthcare to the homeless and the people behind that description. I think you’ll enjoy it.