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2019 keynote speakers

Opening keynote speaker


Sam Bloom

Mother, competitor, survivor

Six years ago, on a family holiday in Thailand, Sam’s life changed irrevocably when the rooftop railing she leant against gave way and she fell six metres onto the concrete below.

She was lucky to be alive and had suffered devastating injuries including severe damage to her spinal cord that left her completely paralysed from the chest down.

Sam – a former nurse – tells of the extraordinary highs and painful lows of life before, during and after the accident that changed her life forever, leading us through the journey back from the edge of a deep depression that almost claimed her life.

Not prone to sugar-coating, Sam speaks from the heart about her experience to deliver her message with clarity and purpose, reminding us that we must make the best of the present as we never know what tomorrow will bring.

Drawing upon her deeply personal experience, Sam invites us to share in the human journey when connecting healthcare for better outcomes.

In 2017, Rabia Siddique left a lasting impression on hearts and minds. This year, Sam Bloom will undoubtedly do it again.

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, Dr Anjali Jaiprakash was unable to present.

International keynote speaker and Kurt Aaron Orator


James Withers PAHHS19Dr James (Jim) Withers

Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Mercy Hospital.

James Withers, MD FACP, is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and member of the teaching faculty in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Mercy Hospital.

In 1992, Dr Withers began to dress as a homeless person and make “house calls” under the bridges and along the river banks of Pittsburgh in the company of a formerly homeless man. This led to the founding of Operation Safety Net (OSN), one of the first full time, comprehensive medical services of its’ kind for the unsheltered homeless. Medical care is delivered directly on the streets, along the river banks and in the abandoned buildings of Pittsburgh, with full social service and housing follow-up. Through extensive national and global travel, his “street medicine” model spread as both a delivery model and unique educational resource.

In 2005, Dr Withers established the annual International Street Medicine Symposium (with current partners on six continents) to foster collaboration in the care of those sleeping on the streets.  In 2009, Dr Withers created the Street Medicine Institute to focus on helping communities establish Street Medicine programs, improve existing practice and promote the “classroom of the streets” model in medical education. There are now over 30 medical schools with associated street medicine programs. In July 2019, Dr Withers will launch the first Street Medicine Fellowship at UPMC Mercy Hospital. Dr Withers enjoys numerous volunteer activities, Board memberships, and medical teaching appointments. He is most proud of the many students who have gone on to careers in service-oriented medicine.

Last updated 27 May 2020
Last reviewed 25 March 2019