Alumnus and physician Steve Mitchell confronts poverty daily in Harborview's emergency room.
Healing in the Heart of the City
As associate medical director of emergency services at Harborview Medical Center — a Level I adult and pediatric trauma and burn center — Steve Mitchell '87 teaches and mentors future physicians, and treats patients in critical condition. As part of his job, he cares for many of the city's poor and destitute. "You don't have to go far from home to serve the poor," he says.
On Those He Serves: "Whenever I drive home, I drive through the areas where I know patients I take care of are sleeping under the bridges. It's heartbreaking. It's not only adults; it's children who are living in cars or in vans."
On What a Real ER Looks Like: "Our emergency department is a place where you discover the social ills of your community. A good part of our time is spent not only on doing medicine, but also on things like figuring out how to get clothes for the homeless person who has soiled their clothes. It's unlike anything you see on TV."
On Finding His Calling: "For 15 years I was a firefighter and paramedic. I thought about seminary, business, graduate school — eventually I realized medicine was a way I could take all my clinical experience and merge it with a pastor's heart, if you will."
On Harborview's Mission: "One thing we pride ourselves on is that we never ask about somebody's insurance. We base our treatment on patient needs rather than ability to pay. It's a place that's defined by its mission of service, not only to trauma and burn victims but also to our community's poor."