Last April, A Faith That Does Justice (AFTDJ) interviewed Jim O’Connell, MD, President of Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) during our most recent Fireside Chat. The viewing audience was large, and it was treated to a wonderful entrée to the world of healthcare and homelessness in Boston that Dr. Jim has overseen for over 30 years.
This past week, I had an opportunity to accompany Dr. Jim in his “walk-around rounds” as we moved from Massachusetts General Hospital to Boston Common and finally to Women’s Lunch Place on Newbury Street. What became apparent was the care and compassion offered to those who live on the streets of Boston by Dr. Jim and his team, and the sad irony that so few of these people will voluntarily access some of the best hospitals this country has to offer.
Perhaps at a deeper level, my experience helped me to realize that in engaging these “least among us,” I recognized anew that “there but for the grace of God go you or I.” It is so easy to ignore the homeless among us as their presence can make us uncomfortable. Dr. Jim’s response is to say that the least we can do is to recognize their human dignity and greet them with a kind, “hello”. It is something to keep in mind as we go about our so often comfortable lives