Operation Safety Net
Operation Safety Net (OSN) is a Street Medicine program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. OSN was founded when Dr. Jim Withers and Mike Sallows began to make “house calls” together at night under the bridges, along the river banks and in the abandoned buildings of Pittsburgh. In time, other formerly homeless outreach workers and medical volunteers joined the effort. In 1993, OSN became a nonprofit organization under the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System with Linda Sheets as the program administrator. It has grown into the nation’s first full-time street-based medical delivery system. OSN’s primary functions are to improve the well-being of the unsheltered homeless of Pittsburgh, advocate for health-care justice, educate health-care students, and to assist other cities to develop their own street medicine programs.
Operation Safety Net visits the unsheltered homeless directly where they sleep through walking teams of the formerly homeless and medical outreach staff. Most of OSN’s work force are volunteers, but a dedicated office/case management staff support all the field work. Services are available year-round, 24-hours a day. The work of OSN has evolved to include medical student education in the streets, housing, preventive health services, hospital consults, severe weather shelter and response, as well as extensive public education. OSN has received numerous national and international awards.
Operation Safety Net became a model for other cities, such as, Santa Barbara, California; San Diego, California; Morgantown, West Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia; and Chicago, Illinois. Through extensive global networking, OSN helped to create a street medicine collaborative that hosts the annual International Street Medicine Symposium (supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Glaxo Smith Kline). As of 2007, there are 21 US cities and 11 international cities represented.
- ↑ Malloy, Michael G. “Pittsburgh’s Operation Safety Net Is Making a Difference to the Underserved,” AAMC Reporter, March, 2003.
- ↑ Umar, Kauthar B. MA. “Health Care Headaches: Accessing Safety Net Services,” HHS Office of Minority Health Closing The Gap, August 2003.
- ↑ *Srikameswaran, Anita. “‘Street doc’ honored for work with homeless,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Thursday, August 15, 2002.
- ↑ Groves, Martha. “Street medicine: house calls without the house,” Los Angeles Times, April 3, 2007.
- ↑ Fahy, Joe. “Doctors meeting here to consider street peoples’ needs,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Monday, October 10, 2005.
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