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Vaccine for All: Street Health Outreach & Wellness Mobile Units Offer Vaccines, Other Health Care Services to New Yorkers Experiencing Homelessness

Mobile units will offer COVID-19 tests and vaccines and whole person care, including wound care, mental health support, basic material necessities and more

Apr 29, 2021

New York, NY

NYC Health + Hospitals today announced the launch of three mobile units across New York City to offer vaccines and COVID-19 tests for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. The Street Health Outreach and Wellness (SHOW) mobile units will engage individuals where they are and also offer critical whole person care, such as wound care, mental health support, and basic material necessities, like meal packages, hygiene kits, and socks.

“During this pandemic, it has been critical to meet people – especially those at higher-risk or most vulnerable to the virus – where they are. The three SHOW mobile units will help us further achieve this mission with our homeless population,” said Dr. Ted Long, Executive Director of the NYC Test &Trace Corps and Senior Vice President for Ambulatory Care and Population Health at NYC Health + Hospitals. “NYC Health + Hospitals has a long, proven track record of extending necessary health care services and other wraparound services and resources to the City’s homeless population. The COVID-19 pandemic only intensified the need of such crucial resources.”

Homeless New Yorkers will be invited in for care and COVID-19 services, no appointments necessary. Patients will also be assessed for other care needed, including wound care, mental health screening, and harm reduction services. Mobile units will typically be in a single location for two weeks. The mobile units will use the Johnson &Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose.

Each van will accommodate one patient at a time, with tents posted outside to allow more room for the required 15-minute observation period after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Mobile units will be staffed by a comprehensive team, which will include a registered nurse, two licenses practical nurses, a behavioral health specialist, and outreach staff. A physician or physician’s assistant travels across the three units to provide clinical and operational support.

Launched earlier this week, the three SHOW mobile units will be deployed around the city for an initial two-week period, Tuesday-Saturday from 11:00 AM-7:00 PM daily. Working with the Department of Homeless Services, SHOW mobile units will initially be posted in the Midtown Penn Station area, Upper West Side, and Washington Heights.

NYC Health + Hospitals has worked to improve access to specialty care for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, including reducing wait times for referrals from homeless health providers by 30 percent, and training more than 200 staff from more than 20 homeless health providers in the system’s electronic referral platform. This is in addition to the system’s two Primary Care Safety Net Clinic at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue and Woodhull. The Clinic integrates facility primary care clinical staff with Community Care staff and a housing navigator to provide wraparound services and meet the complex needs of people experiencing homelessness.

“NYC Health + Hospitals has a long history of meeting New Yorkers where they are and building healthy relationships with communities and populations across our diverse City. We are proud to continue that tradition by providing critical COVID-19 resources to New Yorkers experiencing homelessness,” said Dr. Amanda Johnson, Director of the NYC Test &Trace Corps Take Care Program and Assistant Vice President for Care Models in the Office of Ambulatory Care and Population Health at NYC Health + Hospitals. “Our SHOW mobile units will reach hundreds of individuals especially vulnerable to the threat of COVID-19. We look forward to expanding the reach of these vital services and delivering holistic care to those in need.”