News & Events

Street Medicine

For the past 23 years, Dr. Jim Withers has been caring for the homeless, not in his office but in the streets of Pittsburgh, PA. At night, Withers and staff from Operation Safety Net go into abandoned buildings and parks, and under bridges, to treat the homeless for everything from cuts and bruises to mental illness. “The essence of healthcare is going to where people are, either physically or even more importantly spiritually, emotionally,” explains Withers.

What Withers discovered is that homelessness does not discriminate. “There were runaway kids, 85-year olds, pregnant women, and they all had their own story,” he explains. One case, Ron Painter, a 31-year-old former firefighter, lost his job and home due to undiagnosed bipolar disorder ADHD.

Since 1992, Withers has treated more than 10,000 people and Operation Safety Net, the nonprofit he founded, has now helped nearly 700 obtain permanent housing. Other cities are now modeling the program.

For Withers, street medicine is a calling. “Once you get to know the folks out there, I knew I had to keep going.”

Video:  http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/07/us/cnn-heroes-homeless-doctor-jim-withers/index.html