Pittsburgh's People of the Year 2021: Health | Pittsburgh’s People of the Year | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh's People of the Year 2021: Health

Dr. Jim Withers is taking health care to the streets

click to enlarge Pittsburgh's People of the Year 2021: Health
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Dr. Jim Withers
The past year has not been easy for those without housing. Those experiencing homelessness have been at higher risk to contract COVID-19, and housing protections have mostly come to an end. Dr. Jim Withers, the founder of Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net, has been providing health care for people experiencing homelessness for over 20 years. And while that work has always felt necessary, this past year showed Withers’ dedication even during one of the world’s worst health crises. He spends hours with his patients, and his commitment throughout the pandemic to make sure the city’s homeless population is vaccinated has been something to behold. As he wrote on his blog at the start of the pandemic, “These are the times that reveal the sacred calling of health care.” Withers answered that call, and appears dedicated to do so in perpetuity. After being named a CNN Hero in 2015, he said, “The real heroes are our brothers and sisters who suffer while we stand by and judge them from a distance.”