Physician research on homelessness reveals medical potential

  • Andy Douglas is the author of Redemption Songs: A Year in the Life of a Community Prison Choir and The Curve of the World: Into the Spiritual Heart of Yoga.

I was excited to read Tracy Kidder’s new book, Rough Sleepers: Dr. Jim O’Connell’s Urgent Mission to Bring Healing to the Homeless.

Kidder wrote one of my favorite non-fiction books, Over the Mountain. With spirit, humor and tenacity, this film showcases Paul Farmer, the founder of Partners in Health and a pioneering public health practitioner in Haiti and beyond. This latest book is similar in that it now depicts a doctor working with chronically homeless people in Boston.

Kidder is adept at drawing the reader into the world of his subject. He describes how O’Connell, a young medical resident, was asked to defer a much-needed fellowship and spend a year providing medical care to Boston’s homeless. One year became his second year, and two years became his life’s work.

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