Bridging the Divide Between Medicine and the Homeless: Jim Withers, MD
Dr. Jim Withers was raised in rural Pennsylvania where he made house calls with his father, a Family Practitioner. Dr. Withers received his undergraduate degree at Haverford College, and completed his medical school training at the University of Pittsburgh in 1984. His interest in service oriented medicine grew through medical trips to Central America and India. After finishing his medicine and chief residencies at The Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh, he joined their full time teaching faculty in the Department of Internal Medicine and holds the position of Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. His areas of special interest have been Domestic Violence, International Medicine and Homeless Health Care. In 1992, he dressed as a homeless person and joined a formerly homeless man to visit the street dwellers of Pittsburgh making “house calls” at night. This led to the founding of Operation Safety Net (OSN), the first full time, comprehensive medical service of its’ kind for the unsheltered homeless. Medical care is delivered directly on the streets, along the river banks and in the abandoned buildings of Pittsburgh, with full social service and housing follow-up. OSN has been recognized internationally and is being replicated or studied by cities throughout the world. In 2005, Dr. Withers established the annual International Street Medicine Symposium (with current partners in North America, South and Central America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia) to foster collaboration in the care of those sleeping on the streets. In 2009, Dr. Withers created the Street Medicine Institute to focus on helping communities establish Street Medicine programs, improve existing practice and create a student fellowship in Street Medicine. Dr. Withers enjoys numerous volunteer activities, Board memberships, and medical teaching appointments. He is most proud of the many students who have gone on to careers in service oriented medicine.
Here are some readings regarding Dr. Withers:
- CNN Heros (2015): http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/07/us/cnn-heroes-homeless-doctor-jim-withers
- Next Pittsburgh Feature: http://www.nextpittsburgh.com/business-tech-news/pittsburghs-dr-jim-withers-cnn-top-ten-hero
- Operation Safety Net: https://www.pittsburghmercy.org/operation-safety-net
We will also be conducting a Conference Donation Drive in conjunction with Operation Safety Net. Dr. Withers indicates that socks and personal hygiene items are going to be most useful.