Providing healthcare to the homeless in Pittsburgh
Jim Withers has two lives. By day he is a doctor in a city hospital. At night, he heads out with a backpack of medical equipment to underpasses, rubbish dumps, and back alleys, making “house calls” to those without a home.
For more than 20 years, Dr Withers has been practising medicine on the streets of Pittsburgh, US, providing free healthcare for the city’s homeless population.
“The idea occurred to me when I was looking for a new teaching environment,” says Dr Withers. “I wanted somewhere vivid and real where my students and I would find it difficult to relate to the patients.
“I realised that there was a gap between the healthcare housed people were getting and the healthcare homeless people received. Housed patients got healthcare and homeless people didn’t. These homeless folks were perfect. They were a challenging classroom, right on my doorstep.”
Dr Withers was keen to