As an emergency room physician, Dr. Claudia Beals has firsthand knowledge of the intersection between homelessness and the health care system.
Dr. Beals, who joined The Night Ministry's Board of Directors this year, trained in emergency medicine in the South Bronx, where she encountered individuals experiencing homelessness who came into the hospital, often for a safe place to sleep.
"During my residency, we would actually set up an area in the front hall of the hospital for the homeless with food and blankets," Dr. Beals said. "Security would wake them up early in the morning to leave before the hospital administration came in. We offered clothes and packed breakfast and lunch for them to take when they left."
After finishing medical school in Chicago in 2003, Dr. Beals first trained in internal medicine but decided it wasn't the best fit for her. She then trained in ER medicine at New York's Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, which is similar to Cook County's John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital in Chicago.
"What draws me to emergency medicine is the fast pace and the variety of patients," she said, "and the ever-changing environment of the emergency department."
Dr. Beals, who practices at a number of emergency rooms in Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, was recruited for The Night Ministry's Board because of her medical background and passion for service.
"I'm a physician," she said, "and most of us have a calling to help others."
Dr. Beals believes her medical knowledge and experience can help advance the agency's Health Outreach programs. "I would like to give my perspective to help Street Medicine and possibly find additional medical volunteers for the Health Outreach Bus," she said.