A first-of-its-kind fleet of full-service medical clinics on wheels began making daily stops last week at homeless encampments across Los Angeles County to meet the urgent health and social needs of homeless people.
Each Housing for Health mobile medical unit is equipped with full-service examination rooms to provide primary care, such as vaccines and medications; emergency care procedures such as wound care, ultrasounds and blood tests; and woman-centred care such as cervical cancer screening, diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases, obstetrics and antenatal care. Other services include day-to-day lab results, behavioral health care, psychiatry, enhanced care management, medically assisted treatment in the field, and transition of care.
The clinics are staffed with a team of doctors, mental health professionals, nurses, addiction counselors and social workers. A van is also assigned to each mobile medical truck to help get homeless people to specialized care centers, shelters, clinics or other programs where follow-up health care or social services can be provided.
“As efforts continue to expand our shelters and provide more affordable housing, we must first take care of people where they live, under bridges, in back alleys and in urban encampments. This is a necessary strategy to save lives and build trust among a very vulnerable population,” said LA County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis of the First District. “The mobile medical units are a big step forward in our efforts to reverse death rates among our homeless population, reduce avoidable hospital visits and direct cost-effective medical care to where it is urgently needed. . »
The mobile clinic program was designed to address health care gaps identified during the county’s emergency response to protect homeless people from COVID-19. While deployed for COVID-19 outreach and vaccinations, clinicians and outreach workers collected data from encampments throughout LA County. Housing for Health (HFH) leaders mapped out mobile clinic routes based on the needs identified during these surveys.
“Our COVID response efforts, which included over 70% of our homeless population vaccinated, clearly showed us how successful we can be with direct outreach, targeted and coordinated medical care, and compassion. these mobile clinics will continue our ability to provide consistent, low-barrier, trauma-informed care that is comprehensive, responsive and patient-centered,” said Sarah Mahin, Director, Housing for Health.