Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Spring 2019 - 18

M e d i c a l r e c o r d f e at u r e

STREET MEDICINE
by Eugene P. York, MD, FACP

P

roviding medical care as well as social support for those
who are homeless or at risk of homelessness has always been
a challenging goal. There are a myriad of reasons why an
individual or family becomes homeless and remains homeless. The
reasons for homelessness are not always what one would expect.
The medical and social difficulties are often obstacles one would not
consider unless placed in that situation oneself. Perceptions shatter
and difficult realities become apparent very quickly.
In 1994, Dr. Jim Withers of Mercy Health System in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania put on a backpack stocked with supplies and began
to provide medical care to the homeless. Street Medicine was born,
and has since that time spread across the world. Each year the Street
Medicine Institute hosts a conference in various parts of the world.
In 2017 the Tower Health System at Reading Hospital joined
with community partners and initiated its own Street Medicine
program.
With administrative support, a core group of physicians,
nurses, diabetes educators, and podiatrists are joined by a host of
volunteers to provide weekly care to the homeless in the Reading

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area. Participation in Street Medicine is part of the education of
students and residents, exposing them to the realities of health care
disparities and the challenges of reducing these disparities. The
program has been extremely successful and is an example of putting
into practice the goal of the Tower Health System of "Advancing
Health. Transforming Lives."
We hear from individuals served by Street Medicine the words
"Thank you. I do not know what I would have done if you had not
been here." We must continue this work, but all good programs
require the continued vision, efforts and work of good people. The
assistance of many, including the Reading Hospital Foundation, the
Friends of Reading Hospital, United Way, and a myriad of other
organizational and private donors too numerous to mention, has
enabled this work to continue. Volunteer and financial help is
always needed and is welcomed. Further information and an
overview of what we do at Street Medicine may be found at
www.bewellberks.org/street-medicine.


http://www.bewellberks.org/street-medicine http://www.berkscms.org

Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Spring 2019

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