For some families, getting to doctor appointments can be difficult – and, oftentimes, they're expensive too. But thanks to Children's Health Project of Detroit, a Henry Ford Health System and Children's Health Fund partnership, Detroit kids have medical treatment coming straight to them.
On Oct. 28, 2013, the group welcomed Clara – a blue bus fashioned to function as a pediatric medical clinic. Clara joins Hank, the first mobile clinic donated by the Children's Health Fund, which started making rounds in 2011. Clara was donated through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, according to HFHS and Children's Health Fund.
Buses making a difference
The buses travel around Detroit and stop at schools and community-based organizations to provide the city's underserved kids with medical treatment. In 2013 alone, HFHS and Children's Health Fund estimate Hank made 1,000 medical visits, meaning they were able to perform physical exams, treat illnesses and much more.
"We know that by getting out in the community – into the schools, into the community centers – that we're actually able to reach out to the families" that have difficulties getting treatment, Dr. Charles Barone of HFHS explained in an Oct. 28 press conference at Dixon Educational Learning Academy in Detroit.
The buses are out each week stopping at several Detroit locations. But if the bus isn't at a certain school on the day a student needs to see a doctor, there are vans available to shuttle the kids to the mobile clinic's location, Barone noted. Now, with two buses, they'll be able to make double the medical visits, and will treat approximately 700-800 children each year.
For kids who are having difficulty seeing or hearing in school, or experience health issues that keep them up at night or cause absences, accessible medical care is essential for their futures, said Karen Redlender, executive director of the Children's Health Fund, at the press event.
"Nationally, about 12 million school days are missed every year due to asthma. That's a lot of missed lessons, missed tests and missed learning," Redlender said. In Detroit alone, about 20 percent of children have asthma – "more than twice the national average," she added.
Getting kids the help they need
The students are thankful for the care, too. Laura Whitley, a sixth grader at Dixon, wrote a thank-you letter to the doctors on the mobile clinics, which was read aloud during the press conference by Nancy Schlichting, HFHS CEO.
"You give us everything we need, and I am speaking for all of this school," the 11-year-old wrote. The young writer even included a poem, noting, "I don't think we could make it without you. We love you guys. Without you, we would cry."
"I love that the buses help us all the time," Whitley told Metro Parent. "Without those buses, more people would miss days, fail tests, miss tests and fail class. So those buses are very important."
According to the Children's Health Project of Detroit website, the mobile units will treat kids 0-18 years old, and kids won't be turned away – even those without insurance. Plus, children from the community and siblings of students at the schools can be treated, too. The patients do need parental consent to be treated.
Bus stop-off locations
Hank and Clara stop at the following locations on their routes:
- Boys and Girls Club – Dick & Sandy Dauch Campus
- Cody Academy of Public Leadership
- Cody Medicine and Community Health Academy
- Catherine Ferguson Academy
- Detroit Institute of Technology College Prep High School at Cody
- Detroit Premier Academy
- Dixon Educational Learning Academy
- Don Bosco Hall
- Mae C. Jameson Academy
- Sampson Webber Academy
- Thirkell Elementary School