Why McLaren doctors learned from an expert | McLaren Healthcare News
Author: McLaren Flint
Dr. Jim Withers, an internationally renowned medical expert in treating the homeless and founder of the Street Medicine Institute, led doctors at McLaren Flint in a “street class” to help homeless patients receive medical care on August 4. His visit included a lecture, a small group discussion at the Carriage Town Ministries healthcare clinic, and an effort to find and reach those living on the city streets.
Dr. Withers has been teaching street medicine and treating the homeless for almost 30 years. His teaching began in Pittsburgh, and in 2009 he and other leaders in this field of medicine established the Street Medicine Institute (SMI), a nonprofit organization that facilitates and improves the direct delivery of health care to homeless homeless where they live. SMI achieves this by providing communities and clinicians with expert training, guidance and support to develop and grow their own street medicine programs.
“Words are not enough to describe what Dr. Jim Withers has done over the past three decades to help those who need our help the most and who are often excluded from medical care for many different reasons,” said Dr. Prabhat K. Pokhrel, Director of the Family Medicine Residency Program at McLaren Flint. “We have partnered with Carriage Town Ministries to help care for homeless patients and would like to extend our services to those living on the streets.
“No one, in my opinion, can teach us these unique skills better than Dr. Jim Withers.”
The McLaren Flint Family Medicine Residency Program, with help from the McLaren Flint Foundation and the Graduate Medical Office, has started its own street medicine program to teach family medicine residents how to care for people who are homeless. The connection to Dr. Withers was made by McLaren Flint Family Medicine resident Meghana Swamy, MD.
“About a year ago, Dr. Pokhrel approached me to help him develop a plan to start a street medicine program for our family medicine residency program,” said Dr. Swamy. “I read an article about Dr Withers, watched several of his videos and decided to contact him directly. His humanitarian work is phenomenal. We are so grateful that he spent a day with us here in Flint.
SMI has become the world leader in developing the field and practice of street medicine and has helped cultivate or improve programs in more than 140 cities in 27 countries on six continents.
SMI is also a community of members that allows professionals and others interested in the street medicine movement to come together to provide peer support, share best practices, seek advice and learn about key concepts necessary for the success of a program.
“I am delighted to see the combination of service and medical training in the program at McLaren Flint,” said Dr Withers. “Leaders and residents are truly committed to expanding these services to help Flint’s homeless population. Speaking directly to this unique group of individuals not only helps them get health care, but can also get them housing and the other things they deserve.