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Celebrating Senior Champions Event Set For October 26

A collaboration of UPMC Senior Services, the Aging Institute, and the University of Pittsburgh, the 2016 Celebrating Senior Champions dinner and auction will recognize individuals and organizations who champion senior causes and help make Pittsburgh a model for healthy aging.

The event gives UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh the opportunity to honor those who make a difference in the lives of seniors in western Pennsylvania and beyond. Proceeds from this outstanding community event will directly benefit UPMC Senior Communities Benevolent Care Fund, a fund that serves elderly residents within our communities who have outlived their financial resources.

Three outstanding Champions will be celebrated for going above and beyond to support senior causes throughout Western Pennsylvania.

Grand Champion: Neil Resnick, MD

Neil Resnick, MDThis year's Grand Champion is Neil Resnick, MD., Thomas Detre Professor and Chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology, Associate Director of the Aging Institute of UPMC Senior Services at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Hartford Center of Excellence in Geriatrics.

Dr. Resnick helped to pioneer the field of geriatric voiding dysfunction and incontinence, syndromes that lead to significant disability. His research has improved the understanding of the causes of incontinence, and he has developed novel approaches to diagnosis and treatment.

In addition, Dr. Resnick devised a nurse-administered incontinence management strategy which is now mandated by the United States government for every nursing home resident and which has been adopted by other countries as well.

He has contributed to the National Institutes of Health Consensus conference on Incontinence, edited its published proceedings, chaired several national scientific meetings on aging, and served on numerous editorial boards and grant review committees. He has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization international consultations on incontinence.

A graduate of Yale, Dr. Resnick received his medical degree from Stanford University Medical School. In 1983, he founded the Continence Center at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital, the first of its kind in North America. He also founded and directed the geriatrics division at the Brigham for a decade until his arrival at the University of Pittsburgh in 1999.

Dr. Resnick's expertise has been recognized by inclusion in "Best Doctor" lists both locally and nationally as well as by awards from the NIH, International Continence Society, Society for General Internal Medicine, and American Urological Association. More recently, Dr. Resnick and his colleagues have been working to re-engineer geriatric care.

Community Champion: Operation Safety Net, James Withers, MD

James Withers, MD Operation Safety Net®, Pittsburgh Mercy's award-winning, innovative medical and social service outreach program to people who are experiencing chronic homelessness, was founded in 1992 by internal medicine physician Dr. Jim Withers.

As part of Pittsburgh Mercy and Trinity Health, serving in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy, Operation Safety Net delivers integrated healthcare, case management, housing follow up, and other vital health and human services to individuals living on the streets of Pittsburgh. To date, Operation Safety Net has reached approximately 10,000 individuals with more than 68,000 visits and helped more than 1,200 individuals who were once homeless to find homes of their own. Dr. Withers, whose interest in service-oriented medicine grew in the course of medical missions to Central America and India, continues to serve as the organization's medical director.

Most of Operation Safety Net's work force are volunteers, but a dedicated office/case management staff support all of the field work. Services are available year-round, 24 hours a day. The work of Operation Safety Net has evolved to include medical student education in the streets, housing, preventive health services, hospital consults, severe weather shelter and response, and extensive public education.

Dr. Withers and Operation Safety Net have been recognized internationally with numerous awards and honors for their work. Dr. Withers was named one of the 2015 Top 10 CNN Heroes. Other recognitions have come from the American College of Physicians, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the Catholic Health Association and the United Nations Health Education Center.

As an innovative model of care, Operation Safety Net is being replicated or studied in cities throughout the world. In 2005, Dr. Withers and Operation Safety Net established the International Street Medicine Symposium to foster international collaboration and share best practices in the care of people experiencing homelessness. In 2008, Dr. Withers created the Street Medicine Institute to help other communities establish street medicine programs, improve existing practice, and create student learning opportunities in street medicine. Operation Safety Net currently has partners in cities in North, South, and Central America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Caregiver Champion – Elaine Berkowitz, DMD

Elaine Berkowitz, DMDDr. Elaine Berkowitz practices geriatric and special needs dentistry in private homes, nursing homes, personal care homes, rehabilitation hospitals and general hospitals, bringing essential oral care to the home-bound including residents at UPMC Canterbury Place. She has been distinguished as one of Pittsburgh's top dentists. A dental assistant for over 20 years, she taught dental assisting at the high school level and at the University of Pittsburgh before going to dental school at age 38.

Her education includes a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Vocational Education, a Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine and a residency at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry. Dr. Berkowitz recently received a Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Prizren in Kosova, an award previously bestowed upon Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

Dr. Berkowitz is a member of numerous military and dental organizations. She is active in the Reserve Officers Association, the Military Order of World Wars, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Dental Association and Special Advocates in Dentistry, to name a few. She recently retired from the Army Reserves with 38 years of service, four deployments and numerous medals and distinctions.

Because of her many years of military service, the Jewish Military Museum has asked to display her uniforms and other memorabilia. Dr. Berkowitz has an existing uniform display at the Soldiers and Sailors Museum in Pittsburgh, and soon the Heinz History Center will follow suit.

Berkowitz has volunteered her time since the age of fourteen…58 years and counting. She has read for Radio Information Services, the station for blind and print-handicapped listeners, for more than 33 years.

A native and resident of Pittsburgh for 72 years, Dr. Berkowitz has lectured internationally on Geriatric Dentistry, including places as far-flung as Japan and the Ukraine and recently published her autobiography, "Live Life…Love Country". It can be purchased at Amazon.com, from the author or at several gift shops in Pittsburgh. Berkowitz enjoys traveling (she has reached five continents so far) and teaching oral health to whoever will listen!

The host for the evening dinner and program is Rocky Bleier.

The event will be held at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 26, at the Omni William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh.

Join us and help provide Pittsburgh with the finest senior care programs, ensuring that they are available to all individuals, including you, your family and friends. Tickets: $175 Per Person $325 Per Couple $1,700 Per Table of 10. Reservations are available by phone at 412-864-3524.

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