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House Calls For The Homeless

House Calls For The HomelessFamily Circle magazine honors Tufts graduate Roseanna Means for her unparalleled work to provide quality health care to low income and homeless women.

Boston [01.17.02] By trade, Roseanna Means has dedicated her life to caring for others. But for more than a decade, the Tufts-trained doctor has taken her medical practice one step further than most, dedicating her time and expertise to a group of patients frequently overlooked -- low income and homeless women.

This month, her work caught the attention of Family Circle magazine, which profiled Means as one of the country's "exceptional volunteers."

"Dr. Means offers a safe, welcoming place for low income or homeless women to receive free medical treatment through Women of Means, a volunteer organization she founded in 1998," reported Family Circle.

The service, Means says, is long overdue.

"The homeless have already suffered so much trauma and getting healthcare can be an extremely daunting process," she told the Boston Herald.

But getting quality healthcare doesn't have to be intimidating or difficult, says Means, a graduate of Tufts University's School of Medical.

"The model is to give women access to medical care in a dignified setting and in a way that people aren't reminded that they're poor," Means told Family Circle.

Her clinics have proven a significant asset to the Boston community.

What began as a one-doctor clinic in 1997, has quickly spread to five Boston-area shelters and attracted eight more volunteer doctors.

"We had well over 2,000 visits last year," Means told Family Circle. "I can't believe how much we've grown."

This month, the magazine awarded Means one of its annual Halo Awards for her outstanding work.

"Family Circle proudly salutes our fourth annual Halo Award recipients," the magazine's editors wrote about Means and a handful of other volunteers around the country. "The individuals we honor deserve special recognition for their extraordinary efforts to help others."

For Means, there is still work to be done.

When she's not working in one of her clinics, the Tufts graduate is teaching her colleagues about the importance of providing care for low income and homeless patients.

"Clinicians get caught up in the emotional aspects of the homeless and don't even know where to begin," Means told the Herald. "But taking care of homeless people is important to know because they are showing up everywhere."

Some would probably say the same of Means.

"She has lectured at all the major teaching hospitals and medical schools in Boston, and has also written chapters for two medical textbooks as well as numerous articles for medical journals on the issue of caring for low-income and homeless women," reported Family Circle.

Last fall, the incoming class at Tufts' School of Medicine had an opportunity to hear from Means, as she delivered the keynote address at University's annual White Coat ceremony. The event -- in which students receive their first white coat as the symbol of their commitment to their patients -- was a particularly fitting place for the Tufts graduate to talk about extending care to those who need it most.

Her passion stems from her lifetime commitment to helping people in need.

"After completing medical school at Tufts University, she went to Thailand to care for Cambodian refugees for two and a half months," reported the magazine. "In 1995, she uprooted her [family] from their home near Boston to spend a year in Costa Rica, where she worked at a health clinic."

The experiences have given her a unique talent for connecting with her patients.

Describing Means to Family Circle, one of her colleagues said, "She approaches patients not only as people who have diseases that need to be treated, but she understands how a disease affects a person, and the difficulties of living with it."

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