Operation Safety Net

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

With winter weather approaching, Pittsburgh Mercy Health System and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS)  have teamed up to provide a cold-weather shelter for the region's homeless.

The Severe Weather Emergency Shelter (SWES), part of Pittsburgh Mercy's Operation Safety Net program, will provide a warm place to stay with clinical and behavioral health care services, beds and assistance finding permanent housing, according to the DHS.

When the temperature dips below 26 degrees (F), most Pittsburghers have a warm place to stay – but imagine not having that option.  Homeless shelters that are open year round fill up quickly on cold night leaving  many without warmth.

That’s why Allegheny County and Operation Safety Net are opening the Severe Weather Emergency Shelter (SWES) from November 15, 2014, to March 15, 2015 again.

A doctor’s office on wheels, which looks just like an RV on the outside, is taking to the streets Monday.

Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s (PMHS) new mobile medical unit features: three private examine rooms, one for therapy and psychiatric evaluation, and the other two are physical exam rooms, one of which can double as a dental clinic.

“For all practical purposes, the luxury on the inside is as good as any physician’s office in town, but it offers that level of care to people who don’t normally get it,” said PMHS CEO Ray Wolfe.

Annual Candlelight Vigil to Remember Homeless Deaths

Dec 17, 2013

As a part of National Homeless Persons Memorial Day, a Pittsburgh nonprofit is hosting a candlelight vigil to remember those who have died homeless in 2013.

Operation Safety Net, a program by Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, will host the vigil under the bridge that connects Grant Street to Fort Pitt Boulevard in downtown on Saturday, Dec. 21, the longest night of the year.

Operation Safety Net’s Severe Weather Emergency Shelter opened two days early this year with more than four times the expected turnout.

When the temperature drops down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit, Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s Operation Safety Net opens a Severe Weather Emergency Shelter at the Smithfield United Church of Christ in downtown Pittsburgh to protect homeless people from the cold.

The shelter has overnight accommodations, social services and medical care.

With the heat reaching 90 degrees all this week, the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have been opening and extending the hours of cooling centers for the elderly — but what about the homeless?

Dr. Jim Withers, medical director and founder of Operation Safety Net, said the homeless, especially those who are elderly, are at risk during the heat.