Dr. Jim Withers’ office fits into a small, backpack, which he carries with him every night on the streets of Pittsburgh. He and a small team of outreach workers and medical students are practicing what’s called “street medicine” — a term Dr. Withers coined in the early nineties. The idea behind street medicine is simple: a homeless person is not likely to visit a doctor when they’re sick or a hospital when they’re hurt, so the best way to get them treatment is to visit them where they live. On any given night Withers and his team are under bridges, on the steps of churches and in McDonald’s bathrooms offering free check-ups, over the counter medications and treatments.
Also check out the van that tweets to help the homeless.
Withers works for a small non-profit called Operation Safety Net which is part of the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System. His collaborator is a former homeless man-turned-outreach-worker, Mike Sallows, who allowed Withers to tag along in his street patrols if he followed his rules — Don’t dress like a doctor, and don’t do anything stupid. More than 20 years later, the two are still working together.
We’re partnering with NBCUniversal to support the greatest innovators who are tackling some of the nation’s most critical issues. Tell us who you think the next biggest changemaker in America is by nominating them to be a 2015 NationSwell AllStar.
Let’s fix this country together.
Show Your Support
With your support, we raised $500 in five days for the Street Medicine Institute. But you can still help bring medical and social services to those that are living on the streets by contributing to the Street Medicine Institute.
Spread the word:
Thank you for taking action!
To make an even bigger impact, share this story:
Be sure to sign up, so we can send you more inspiring stories.