Archive for the ‘In The Press’ Category

RadioActive! Street Medicine

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

RadioActive! July 16 Street Medicine

SALT LAKE CITY, UT (KRCL) – Street Medicine is the return of the universal practice of bringing doctors to patients in need rather than bringing patients to medical facilities. It’s mission is to provide care for those living and sleeping on the streets. Drs. Bob Withers and Patrick Perri join us for the hour to discuss vision to provide healthcare and insure that patients never die while homeless. © Copyright 2012, krcl.

Listen to the radio show here.

Street Medicine: It May Be Just What the Doctor Ordered

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Street Medicine: It May Be Just What the Doctor Ordered

07.18.2012 by KCPW

(KCPW News)  People experiencing chronic street homelessness suffer a massively disproportionate burden of poor health; in the US, they die nearly thirty years earlier than their peers, usually from preventable and treatable chronic conditions.

Drs. Jim Withers and Pat Perri, leaders of the Street Medicine Institute, say the service of resource-poor individuals is an opportunity to expose the very health care delivery weaknesses that put us all at risk for poor care and high costs, and street medicine strategies could serve as a model to promote healing for patients, providers, and the health care system as a whole.

Sponsored by the Fourth Street Clinic, Withers and Perri delivered a lecture, Street Medicine: It May Be Just What the Doctor Ordered at the Salt Lake City Main Library on July 17, 2012.  Listen to a podcast of the event here


Street Medicine: How Doctors are Helping the Homeless in Their Communities

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

At the 2012 conference for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council this past May in Kansas City, Mo., a woman walked up to the registration desk and told the group that she had recently spent time on the streets. She told them that whenever she got access to a computer during that period, she would go to their Web page and look at the staff’s photographs. Those faces reminded her there were people out there who cared.

Providing comfort only skims the surface of what the NHCHC and similar groups do for the homeless. In “street medicine,” also dubbed “suitcase health care,” providers take their health services directly to the streets.

The practice began as a handful of lone wolf physicians walking the streets decades ago. Organized programs began popping up in the late 80s and early 90s as a response to the increasingly visible issue of homelessness, now estimated to affect two to three million people annually. About one-third of the homeless don’t receive health care through free clinics or hospitals, according to Dr. Patrick Perri, chair of the board of directors of the Street Medicine Institute.

Perri said his group knows of 84 structured street medicine practices around the world. These groups are funded, sparsely, by institutions like hospitals, departments of public health, nonprofit organizations and universities. The Health Resources and Services Administration funds programs each year as well. Almost 9 percent of HRSA’s $2 billion annual budget is appropriated to healthcare for the homeless, said John Lozier, executive director of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.

Because copy space is at a premium and homelessness is far from sexy as a news topic, here are some tips about how to sell this kind of story to your editor.

First is the intense humanity of the topic. Perri said homeless people have the highest mortality rate of any group in the nation. The mean age of death for people chronically living on the streets is 47. Yes, 47.

Because we all know that kind of argument, however compelling, doesn’t always fly in a newsroom, here are a couple others. One is money.

Homeless people almost always have complex medical issues and typically have co-existing conditions that include substance abuse and behavioral or mental health conditions. Lozier said they are also three to six times more likely than the general population to have chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. They don’t receive proper primary care and over-use emergency rooms, which equals money out of everyone’s pockets. For an example of how one homeless patient cost one county nearly $1 million in safety net care, read Sarah Arnquist’s essay on reporting on homeless health care.

Finally, homeless people can be a good litmus test for a local health system, Perri said. It is such a difficult, challenging population to reach, that seeing how they are cared for can highlight both the flaws and effectiveness in the way care is provided.

If you are able to cover the field of street medicine, Dr. Jan Gurley, a blogger and physician at a clinic for the homeless in San Francisco, offered some tips on how to do it well.

Though it might seem like an obvious statement: be safe. It is easy to find yourself in a compromising situation or let your guard down when interviewing people.

“If someone’s life depends on finding a few bucks before sunset, you don’t want to be the person walking around by a homeless shelter alone with an iPod doing an interview,” Gurley said. She recommends meeting individuals through a program or in a hospital waiting room. If you are going to go to someplace like a food bank line, take someone else with you.

She also cautioned that you may be asked to jump through many hoops to get people to talk with you or to help you connect with homeless people. Providers often are extremely protective of these patients. But they will come through.

While these stories may be challenging, they can also be highly rewarding. “It helps us realize that people experiencing homelessness are not ‘the other’ – they are us and members of our community,” Perri said. “It becomes our problem and not their problem.”


To read the original article, click here!

Street Medicine in Columbus, Ohio from NBC4i

Monday, May 7th, 2012

‘Dr. Jim’ makes house calls to the homeless

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

‘Dr. Jim’ makes house calls to the homeless

Dr. James S. Withers, M.D., is known as simply “Dr. Jim” on the streets of Pittsburgh. For more than 20 years, the compassionate physician has been making “house calls” to those without homes, providing healthcare to individuals on street corners, in alleyways, under bridges and along river banks.

By day, Dr. Jim is an internist and teaching physician at Mercy Hospital. By night, he’s helping the homeless read their blood pressure.

“I think what it boils down to is that we’re in this together,” Dr. Jim, 53, told ABC News last year. “We are committed to each other in a way that hopefully nobody is ever completely outside the circle of caring.”

To read the entire article, click here!


Dr Liza lifts spirits of homeless & hopeless in Moscow

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

With thousands of people living rough on the streets of Moscow, the chief concern for them remains how to make it through each night. But thanks to one doctor, help is at hand. However, as Sean Thomas reports, she battles with a chronic lack of funding to bring treatment to the city’s poorest people.

Street Medicine Institute Aims to Help Homeless Worldwide

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Street Medicine Institute Aims to Help Homeless Worldwide

Jim Withers of Forest Hills wants to help create more programs like Operation Safety Net throughout the world.

When Jim Withers started to work on the street to provide medical care to the homeless, he didn’t know anyone else who did it.

“I just took a back back and did medical care,” he said.

But in 1993 on a trip to Calcutta, India, that all changed. There, he met doctors working in the poverty-stricken streets and slums—and also had the chance to meet Mother Theresa.

“It was amazing how we had the same problem solving and I got determined to connect those kinds of people,” Withers of Forest Hills said. “Over the years, people started coming to Pittsburgh and I started going elsewhere. It’s exciting when these people meet because they tend to feel isolated in their communities. You just get validated.”

Read the full article in the Forest Hills-Regent Square Patch here!

Post-Gazette Recognizes Street Medicine

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Operation Safety Net a model for national, global programs that provide medical care for the homeless

Jim Withers, who founded Operation Safety Net in 1992, says his early years of practicing street medicine in Pittsburgh were a product of his imagination.

“I made it up, and I had a philosophy that drove it. It’s ‘The streets have to teach health care how to meet them on their terms.

Click here for original story.