Similar to Haverhill, New Mobile Clinic Will Bring Care Directly to Methuen’s Unhoused Population

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center President and CEO Guy L. Fish said during yesterday’s ribbon-cutting everyone, including unhoused people, has a right to healthcare. (WHAV News photograph.)

(Additional photograph below.)

A third mobile health clinic—the other two already serving Haverhill’s and Lawrence’s homeless—allows the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center’s homeless healthcare program to expand its direct-to-patient primary care into Methuen.

During yesterday’s ribbon-cutting, Health Center President and CEO Guy L. Fish said, “It’s super, super important that we get under the bridges, to the shelters, to the hotels where new immigrant families are being housed, and bring healthcare to them because healthcare is a human right.” Mobile clinics are necessary for those who can’t navigate the hospital system, or don’t have the means to get there, he added.

Roughly the size of a large RV, the brand-new vehicle has three rooms. In the frontmost, the three-to-five-person staff can do simple assessments—take vital signs, do lab work or offer vaccines, said Health Care for the Homeless Medical Director Dr. Ryan Dono. The middle one functions both as a waiting area and space for evaluation. The third room, separated by a door, looks like a scaled down doctor’s office, allowing staff to perform full physical exams.

He said they do mostly the same procedures as at their brick-and-mortar office, including women’s health exams, ultrasounds and treating Hepatitis C. “Being able to treat people for Hepatitis C in the moment is an amazing intervention,” he added.

The two mobile clinics currently in operation serve unsheltered people experiencing homelessness, as well as unhoused people in emergency shelters. They cover Haverhill and Lawrence, stopping by drop-in centers like Common Ground Café. With one of their current vehicles a little too small, and the other no longer mobile, Dono said the new addition will allow program staff to reach Methuen beginning this fall and conduct more regular visits to encampments starting in July.

Particularly in Lawrence, he said community outreach workers already “check in on people, help clean up syringes and offer people services and engage with them all the time… So it’s just adding a doctor to the mix that can provide care at the moment.”

The new vehicle was paid for by donations including $150,000 from the Arbella Insurance Foundation and $100,000 from the Yawkey Foundation. MassDevelopment also contributed money. Dono said, “The current care that we have on our mobile unit is always really busy, and as we expand services, it’s always my dream that we’ll have more time with patients.”

State Sen. Pavel M. Payano said at yesterday’s event he advocated for Health Care for the Homeless on Beacon Hill, and recently heard it may receive an additional $250,000 from the state. The budget amendment awaits approval in conference committee. Dono said he would use the extra money to add therapists and psychiatrists to his team.

Roughly the size of a large RV, the brand-new mobile health clinic has three rooms for exams. (WHAV News photograph.)

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