Dr. Jim Withers, a leader in providing medical care for the homeless and founder of the Street Medicine Institute, presented the annual Dietrich V. Asten Lecture at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) on Monday, Nov. 27.
Withers, assistant clinical professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, discussed his work and the evolution of the street medicine movement. In addition, he spoke on how the homeless are treated, the biases when thinking of the homeless and what can be done to help the homeless that will save both lives and money for recurring treatments.
His interest in service-oriented medicine grew through medical service trips to Central America and India.
In 1992, Withers dressed as a homeless person and made “house calls” at night to people living on the streets of Pittsburgh. This led to the founding of Operation Safety Net, one of the first full-time, comprehensive medical services of its kind for the unsheltered homeless.
Withers established the International Street Medicine Symposium in 2005 to foster collaboration in the care of those sleeping on the streets and, four years later, he created the Street Medicine Institute to focus on helping communities establish street medicine programs, improve existing practices and create a student fellowship in street medicine.
In addition to his work to provide health care for the homeless, Withers also has special interests in domestic violence and international medicine. Read the CNN story on his work here.
The Dietrich V. Asten Lecture at Jefferson is supported by an endowment for lectures in the humanities, sciences, arts and government that enrich the educational experience of students in the University’s professional majors.
Hear the full lecture below.