Meet the PGH Doctor Who Treats the Homeless

In 1992, Dr. Jim Withers began treating individuals in homeless camps and alleyways around Pittsburgh.

What began as a one man operation, an attempt to take his medical knowledge beyond the four walls of the hospital, has grown into a citywide program called Operation Safety Net. In the 20 plus years that Withers has been making rounds in the streets, treating people under bridges, his program has helped more than 10,000 people.

Today, after expanding his program to include a mobile van, drop-in centers and a primary health clinic for the homeless, Withers has become the champion of the global “street medicine” movement. As the founder of the Street Medicine Institute, a nonprofit that supports communities seeking to launch similar “safety net” initiatives, Withers has extended his network to include teams across the United States, and around the world.

Hero of the Year

Jim Withers Pittsburgh Doctor Hero of the Year

While Dr. Withers has spent countless hours helping individuals the rest of society has left behind, his efforts, mission, and patients are now in the national spotlight. That’s because Withers has been selected as a Top 10 CNN Hero of the Year, celebrating everyday people changing the world.

In addition to receiving $10,000 for having been nominated, Dr. Withers will be on hand Sunday, December 6th, for “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” during which the network will announce the “CNN Hero of the Year.”

Read CNN’s profile of Dr. Withers, then tune in to see if he wins the $100,000 grand prize and title of Hero of the Year.