Whittier launches a Mobile Health Van to serve the homeless and to help to address the opioid epidemic
(Boston, MA) November 08, 2018 – Whittier Street Health Center will launch their new Mobile Van, designed to provide health education, screenings and linkage to care to the un-housed members of their community, including those on Melnea Cass Blvd and Mass Ave. The Mobile Van will see its first patrons on Thursday, November 8th 2018.
The goal of the Mobile Van is to screen and connect clients to immediate medical treatment and address challenges associated with access to medical and substance abuse treatment.
Dr Cyril Ubiem, Director of Infectious Disease and Special Populations at Whittier said “Our Community Outreach workers and Navigators will provide HIV, Hepatitis C, sexually transmitted infections screenings, substance abuse assessments, prevention counseling, condom and safe kit distribution, referrals, and linkage to comprehensive care from the van.”
The communities that Whittier serves are at high risk for debilitating and costly chronic diseases and negative health outcomes. According to the Boston Public Health Commission’s 2009 Health of Boston Report, among Boston’s sixteen neighborhoods, Roxbury has the highest rate of low birth weights, infant mortality, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations for children under the age of five due to asthma, as well as adult hospitalizations due to diabetes, and heart disease. Roxbury also has the second highest rate of new HIV cases, obesity, and mortality due to substance abuse.
“Whittier Street Health Center’s mobile health van is one of the many ways Whittier Street is collaboratively working to improve access to health care by bringing services into the community and meeting clients where they are,” said Monica Valdes Lupi, Executive Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “This initiative will strengthen the city’s efforts to address the health inequities faced by Boston’s most vulnerable residents.”
In line with the huge opioid epidemic in Boston, there are ever increasing numbers of homeless individuals using drugs around the Massachusetts Avenue, thus contributing to a public health crisis.
Whittier Street Health Center has a comprehensive Infectious Disease program embedded in their primary clinic focused on addressing Sexually Transmitted diseases, HIV and HCV infection at every stage of the continuum for all, especially at-risk and minority populations. Community health workers staffing the Mobile Van will be out in the community five days a week at various high risk locations, offering a range of services to those most in need. They will also identify those who have been previously diagnosed with chronic disease and link them to treatment.
Whittier works closely with the community not only to provide care to those facing significant health issues, but also to address the underlying causes of these disparities, including poverty, to make healthier communities for future generations.