Instead of Earning Millions, This Doctor Treats the Homeless


You can find Dr. Jim O’Connell making his rounds each morning in Boston as most other physicians do in the United States.

What is different about this doctor is that instead of making millions inside of a hospital, he is out on the streets making house calls to the homeless.

Over half a million people in the United States are homeless. Many of them don’t have access to health care despite having several problems. Dr. O’Connell’s team includes a case manager, nurse practitioner, psychiatrists, and specialists, and together they treat about 700 people.

During his morning rounds, Dr. O’Connell sees about two dozen people.

His Patients Compare Him to Jesus

Dr. O’Connell graduated from Harvard Medical School. He was about to enroll in a prestigious oncology fellowship when it was suggested to him that he could be the founding doctor in a new healthcare program for the homes in Boston.

He decided to pursue that idea. The one-year commitment turned int a 33-year career at one of America’s largest homeless healthcare facilities.

You can find Dr. O’Connell easing the suffering of people in a variety of ways. If someone can’t be treated on the street and isn’t sick enough for the hospital, then he gets that person a spot at his organization’s medical respite facility.

If you were to ask Dr. O’Connell what his life might have been if he’d pursued the lucrative fellowship, you’d just get a shrug. “I never think about it,” he says.



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