Project Health Moves, a Health Innovations program that delivers services from Northeastern University’s Health in Motion van, recently visited Boston’s Main South Neighborhood of Murray Avenue to provide HIV tests, STD and hepatitis screenings, immunizations, and referrals to care for underserved residents. During the visit, 11 Northeastern University nursing students, nurses, and health educators saw 84 clients, including uninsured immigrants and refugees, homeless victims of domestic violence, the working poor, drug users, and uninsured citizens.
The mobile clinic visits the neighborhood four times a year, but the level of need would warrant dozens of visits annually if funding were available. Health Innovations Clinical Director Catherine O’Connor stated that Project Health Moves, which is funded by the state Department of Public Health’s Office of HIV/AIDS, decides which communities to visit based on “rates of drug overdoses, incarceration, admission to drug treatment, STDs, HIV infection, homelessness, and teen pregnancy.” Project Health Moves compares these factors with available community resources to avoid duplicating services.
Although the most recent visit coincided with the National Night Out event in a Murray Avenue park, Project Health Moves usually sets up the mobile clinic by neighborhood businesses who partner with the program. Neighborhood partners include Compare Food Supermarket and Maria’s Kitchen. Volunteers who were committed to serving underserved populations also supplement the van’s staff. Rossana Encalada, assistant director of nursing at Fenway Community Health, provides specialized care for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender clients. Her husband, a program manager for Akamai Technologies of Cambridge, assists with registration and logistics. Project staff also follow up with the van’s clients, helping some resolve MassHealth insurance problems and moving others into an acute detoxification unit in north Massachusetts.