Monday – Wednesday, October 21 – 23, 2019 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

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Great News!

The Street Medicine Institute is excited to announce the 15th annual International Street Medicine Symposium (ISMS 15), to be held October 21-23, 2019, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA!  A special pre-symposium Street Medicine 101 workshop will also be offered on October 20, 2019 for interested participants.  Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net and the Allegheny Health Network’s Center for Inclusion Health have graciously agreed to serve as co-hosts for this 15thanniversary celebration of the global street medicine community as it returns to Pittsburgh – site of the very first ISMS in 2005 and birthplace of the Street Medicine Institute. 

Learning Activities

The International Street Medicine Symposium (ISMS) is the world’s premier educational event dedicated to the health care of rough-sleeper (unsheltered) homeless populations.  As always, the ISMS will offer an impressive slate of homeless health care experts from around the globe presenting clinical topics, innovations, research outcomes, and best practices relevant to street medicine through the popular format mix of large-group lectures, small-group workshops, and poster presentations.  Clinicians and non-clinicians are invited to participate; we encourage and celebrate the diversity of professional roles and disciplines represented among participants.  We intend to offer continuing medical education credits for eligible clinicians.

Host City Spotlight

Highlighting the collaborative work of Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net and the Allegheny Health Network’s Center for Inclusion Health, ISMS 15 will showcase a leading example of sustainability, longevity, and evolution of the street medicine model. 

With a 27-year history of “going to the people”, Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net is widely recognized as an international leader in the practice of street medicine.  Under the leadership of its beloved founder and medical director, Dr. Jim Withers, the organization has positively impacted the health, housing, and human dignity of thousands of people experiencing homelessness in the Pittsburgh region throughout its history.  Operation Safety Net has become a model in whose image numerous other street medicine programs around the world have been created with Dr. Withers’ expert guidance.  

Although a much younger organization, the AHN Center for Inclusion Health has introduced a number of innovative care models to complement and enhance street medicine activities in Pittsburgh, including a unique street addiction/MAT team and a medical respite program.  Firmly rooted in principles of harm reduction, social justice, and high-value care, the Center for Inclusion Health seeks to maximize care access and health equity for a variety of vulnerable populations throughout the region – including rough sleepers.  Its position within a vertically-integrated academic health system allows the mission to extend beyond clinical care, with special emphasis on education and training, quality improvement, and system-level changes to promote inclusion. 

The success of these organizations is a testament to resiliency, partnership, and creative thinking in the face of myriad internal and external challenges common to street medicine practitioners.  The Street Medicine Institute believes that we – a global community dedicated to improving the lives of people sleeping rough – have much to learn from Operation Safety Net and the Center for Inclusion Health about creating effective, sustainable street medicine programming that comprehensively addresses the health of rough sleepers as well as the social determinants of health upstream of homelessness.

Reconnect and Re-energize

As consistently reported by past participants, one of the most valuable experiences at the ISMS is the opportunity for fellowship with street medicine colleagues from around the world.  Again this year, program activities include dedicated time to reconnect with old friends, make new contacts, and share stories of the triumphs and challenges of this important work.  Participants will be inspired and re-energized as they renew a common commitment to improving the lives of their brothers and sisters living on the streets.

Program Schedule

Once again, we received an impressive array of speaker proposals and we extend our thanks to all who participated in the 2019 Call for Presenters.  Click here to review the Final Program for ISMS 15 - we expect this to be another enriching educational experience for all who attend.  The Street Medicine Institute reserves the right to make last minute program adjustments due to unforeseen circumstances.  

Street Medicine 101 Workshop 

We are pleased to offer this special pre-symposium workshop, updated this year for added emphasis on common challenges among new Street Medicine programs. This high-yield introductory session is targeted to those individuals and organizations that may be new to Street Medicine or in need of expert guidance to launch or enhance their Street Medicine activities. This workshop will provide an instructive overview of the history, principles, and practice of Street Medicine, followed by breakout sessions with experts in the field for individualized guidance and problem solving. Additionally, the newly-formed Street Medicine Institute Student Coalition will provide specific content for medical learners and their faculty interested in launching university-based, student-led programs.  Since capacity for this workshop is limited and high demand is anticipated, participants must register in advance to attend.  


Registration is now open!  Please click HERE to register. The Street Medicine Institute is excited to offer a 5% discount to members again this year. Membership is currently free and participants are highly encouraged to take advantage of this discount while it is still available. Click HERE to become a member of the Street Medicine Institute. 

The following tiered registration fee structure respects the fact that ISMS participants come from a variety of disciplines with disparate financial resources.  It is informed by responses to surveys of prior years’ ISMS participants and is designed to offer significant value relative to other educational conferences or professional meetings of similar scope and quality.  If uncertain which tier is most appropriate for you, please [email protected] prior to completing the registration process and submitting any relevant fees. All registration fees are listed and payable in US dollars. 

Group Registration:If you are responsible for registering a group of people, please be advised that a unique registration form must be completed for each participant. Please contact [email protected] advance to discuss instructions for group registration and payment options.

Refunds:Refunds of registration fees will only be granted for cancellations made in writing to [email protected] September 20, 2019; a 10% cancellation charge may apply.

All costs in the table below are listed at the non-member rate. For a 5% discount, click HERE to become a member of the Street Medicine Institute now. 




All ISMS 15 programming will take place at The August Wilson African American Cultural Center, located in the Cultural District of downtown Pittsburgh. 

Named for the Pulitzer-prize winning playwright August Wilson (a proud native of the city’s Hill District neighborhood – the setting for much of his famous ten-play series charting the African American experience throughout the 20thcentury), the August Wilson African American Cultural Center is a multi-purpose venue featuring three art galleries, live performance spaces, meeting areas, and unique educational classrooms for the young and old alike. Guided by the enduring truths and essential values evident in the work of August Wilson, the mission of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center is to own and operate a home for the arts, storytelling, learning and exchange around the African American experience and the rich culture of the African diaspora.


The Drury Plaza Pittsburgh Downtown

Click here to book your discounted rate: Street Medicine Institute Symposium available until September 15, 2019. This is the preferred hotel for ISMS 15 guests, as it is located directly across the street from the conference venue. ISMS participants will receive a special discounted rate of $150 (USD) per night, excluding taxes (14%).Reservations may also be made by calling 1-800-325-0720 and refer to the ISMS group number 2375030.

The Drury offers the following amenities:

-       Free Breakfastfrom 6:00am – 9:30am on weekdays and 7:00am – 10:00am on weekends

-       Free 5:30pm Kickbackfeaturing hot food, beer, wine, mixed drinks and soft drinks 

-       Free Wi-fithroughout the hotel

-       Free Soft Drinks and Popcorn offered in the lobby every evening.

-       On-Site Facilitiesincluding a business center, fitness center, and pool 

-       Overnight Parking: $29/night

AC Hotel by Marriott Pittsburgh Downtown
Click here to: Book your group rate for Street Medicine Institute available until September 19, 2019. The AC Hotel is a 5-minute walk (0.3 mi or 0.5 km) from the conference venue.  ISMS participants will receive a special discounted rate of $150 (USD) per night, excluding taxes (14%). The AC Hotel offers breakfast for $16 at the AC Kitchen, free Wi-fi, and access to a complimentary fitness center. Overnight parking costs $29/night. Reservations may also be made by calling 1-833-999-9319 and asking for the Street Medicine Institute group rate.


Air Travel

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) is located approximately 17 miles (27 km) from The August Wilson African American Cultural Center. Ride sharing (Uber, Lyft, and zTrip), taxi, car rental, and public transportation options from the airport can be found at


Amtrak serves Pittsburgh from many U.S. cities. Pittsburgh Union Station is 0.2 miles (0.3 km) from The August Wilson African American Cultural Center. Tickets can be booked at


Greyhound provides bus transportation to Pittsburghfrom many U.S. cities. Pittsburgh Intermodal Station is located at 0.2 miles (0.3 km) from The August Wilson African American Cultural Center. Tickets can be booked at:

Area Attractions

Since the 1970s, Pittsburgh has been best known for two things: steel and sports. More recently, the city has undergone a dramatic transformation, with the grittiness of the steel industry replaced by a surging economy driven by healthcare and biotechnology development.  Recognized by National Geographic as the #3 global city on The Cool List(the only US city to make the list!) and consistently ranked in the top 5 of America’s most livable cities, Pittsburgh is home to some of the country’s best restaurants, tastiest brews, and most unique shopping districts. A world-class symphony and ballet company highlight the emphasis on the arts, with the Andy Warhol Museum – just a short walk from the venue – hosting the largest collection of his works in the world.  Other world-class institutions located just a short drive from downtown include the Carnegie Museums of Art, Natural History, and Science, as well as the nationally-ranked University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.  With a strong sense of civic pride and interconnectedness stemming from their hardworking immigrant roots, Pittsburghers (affectionately known as “yinzers”) identify strongly with their city’s rich tradition of ethnic neighborhoods, vibrant communities, and robust philanthropy.

The 15thannual International Street Medicine Symposium is conveniently located in the heart of the Cultural District of downtown Pittsburgh.  Numerous theaters, restaurants, bars, and other places of cultural and historic interest are only a short walk, subway, or taxi away:     

5 Minute Walk

-       Food:  Condado Tacos, Bakersfield, and Tako are three of the best Mexican restaurants in the city, all close-by to the venue.  Sienna Mercato (Italian) and Sharp Edge Bistro (Belgian) are more traditional options, while Meat & Potatoes (Gastropub), and The Commoner (Gastropub) are more upscale and lively experiences.

-       Night Life:  Howl at the Moon (lively after-hours piano bar), Redbeard’s (traditional), Olive or Twist (Martini bar), Butcher and the Rye (Craft Cocktails), and Blend Bar (Cigars) are fun late-night spots.  The Speakeasy is a hidden gem for upscale cocktails, secretly located in the basement of the William Penn Hotel.

-       Theaters:  Heinz Hall and the Benedum Center are located just a short walk from the venue and are home to the Pittsburgh Symphony, Ballet, and Opera, as well as traveling Broadway performances. 

10-15 Minute Walk

-       Food:  Market Square is home to several restaurants including Primanti Bros. (traditional Pittsburgh-style sandwich loaded with meat, fries, and cole slaw); Winghart’s (burgers); Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream or the Milkshake Factory (sweet cravings); and La Gourmandine or Prantl’s for delicious baked goods.  (Prantl’s burnt almond torte was recently named the best cake in America!)

-       Sites:  Andy Warhol Museum is a must see and just a quick walk across the Andy Warhol (7th St) Bridge.  Point State Park, located at the convergence of the 3-rivers in downtown, is an awesome place to view the city and the surrounding Mt. Washington and North Shore neighborhoods.

-        Subway:  Conveniently located down the street from the venue, the Wood Street Station serves as your entrance to Pittsburgh’s Light Rail System (locally known as “The T”).  When riding downtown, fares are free, including a trip to the North Shore to catch a Steelers football game at Heinz Field, Pirates baseball game at PNC Park, or a visit to the Carnegie Science Center Museum. 

-       The Strip District:  About a 15-20 minute walk east of downtown, you will find a plethora of food, shopping and night-life options at the original wholesale shopping center circa early 1900s.  Smallman Galley is a unique venue of four restaurants and two bars where you will find something for everyone.  Pamela’s Diner and DeLuca’s Diner are two of the city’s best-loved breakfast establishments.  A trip to the Strip District could not be complete without a visit to Pittsburgh Macaroni Co. (Italian specialty store with an amazing cheese counter) and Mancini’s Bread Co. (try the pepperoni rolls!).  

 Quick Car Ride

-       Destinations:  Mt. Washington, a short trip across the river from downtown, offers spectacular panoramic views of the city skyline.  The neighborhoods of Lawrenceville and Bloomfield are trendy spots with boutique shopping and a number of craft breweries.  East Liberty and Shadyside are fun, more upscale locales, with high-end fashion and sometimes pricier dining options.  Oakland is home to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, along with several Carnegie museums.  

-       Sites:  Duquesne Incline (across the river from Point State Park) is a fun way to travel to the top of Mount Washington for an amazing picture with an awe-inspiring downtown backdrop.  Carnegie Museums of Natural History and Art are world-class museums, located in Oakland.  

-       Food: Church Brew Works (Lawrenceville) is a casual fun brewpub housed within a spectacular former Roman Catholic church.  Piccolo Forno (Italian), Smoke Taqueria (BBQ), and Apteka (Vegan) are other fantastic options in Lawrenceville.  Whitfield (American), Kelly’s Bar (Dive Bar/Restaurant), and Paris 66 Bistro (French) are casual dining options in East Liberty. 

-        Night Life:  Cappy’s Café (Bar) and Shady Grove (Bar) are lively spots in Shadyside.   Lorelei (Cocktail) in East liberty is a hip social spot.  The Goldmark (DJ Bar), New Amsterdam (Bar, Rooftop), and Industry Public House (Bar) in Lawrenceville are hot-spots in the evening hours.  

-       Shopping:  Walnut Street in Shadyside offers the best high-end shopping in the city.   For less-expensive options, try Butler Street in Lawrenceville (above 40th street) or Station Square (across the river from downtown), where you can also embark on a fabulous riverboat tour of the city’s hallmark three rivers. 

Message from the Chair

This year marks a very special return to our street medicine roots as we celebrate 15 amazing years of the International Street Medicine Symposium by revisiting Pittsburgh, the very first host city of the ISMS and birthplace of the Street Medicine Institute. With your participation and expertise, we anticipate another outstanding symposium!  We hope to see you in Pittsburgh in October so that we can continue to learn from one another and renew our collective commitment to improving the lives of our brothers and sisters living on the streets throughout the world.

In service and solidarity,




Elizabeth A. Frye, MD, MPH

Chair, XVth annual International Street Medicine Symposium

 [email protected]