NEW YORK – The Children’s Health Fund launched its first mobile clinics for children in underserved New York City communities 35 years ago. Today you can find them in 15 states, providing care to more than 100,000 children each year. A recent large donation will help even more young people thrive.
Big blue buses bring the doctor’s office to the neighborhood. CHF targets youth living in shelters and poverty.
“Things were already stacked against these children and families, too many barriers,” said CHF President and CEO Dr. Arturo Brito. “Now with the pandemic, it’s gotten even worse.”
The nonprofit’s clinics offer everything from immunizations to mental and dental care in a one-stop shop. In New York City, providers are partners from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Montefiore Children’s Hospital and the Healthy and Ready to Learn City program.
“The way we do it is not ideal,” Brito admitted. “It’s what every child needs.”
The mobile clinic stop in Harlem is not far from the Ali Forney Center for LGBTQ+ youth, a particularly marginalized group when it comes to access to health care.
A statement provided by Ali Forney’s Senior Director of Medical and Mental Health Services, Beth Wolff, explained the nuanced world her clients face when seeking treatment in traditional settings:
“The Ali Forney Center serves homeless LGBTQ youth and young adults ages 16-24 by providing comprehensive services such as housing, case management, and medical/mental health care. Through our work, we have witnessed the tremendous health disparities that exist for homeless queer youth, and see how these disparities grow and intensify if youth identify as transgender. Despite increased need for care, queer youth are less likely to access health services. In medical settings, youth LGBTQ people are often called dead (called names they no longer use) and find themselves corrected or taught by medical providers. They are misgendered, placed in precarious sex-segregated situations, and sometimes shamed by providers to seek the care they deserve. This harmful treatment occurs at the same time as we manage the COVID -19 pandemic, the public health crisis MPX and deal with the consequences of destructive policies that are erasing the rights of queer and trans people of color. We need public and private health providers to commit to providing access to competent, sex-affirming and sex-positive medical care for queer and trans youth.”
“It’s scary for any of us, especially for the patients and families we see who are in under-resourced communities who are often discriminated against,” Brito explained, “so this is where it makes it so much easier to develop that relationship and make that. It’s a lot easier to be a provider for families when you have that confidence.”
When Brito served as director of CHF’s South Florida Project in the 90s, he connected with communities on a personal level.
“I myself came to this country as an immigrant when I was seven years old with my family,” Brito said, “and I understand what it’s like to not have access to health care.”
Pediatrician Brito’s family found his community-driven career inspiring. Now CHF can bring health home even further, with a recent donation of $1.5 million from the Biggest Red Nose Day Ever.
“We can do so much more because there is such a need across the country and in New York City,” Brito said.
The funds will increase staffing and services for those most in need, bringing CHF closer to its goal of serving an additional 50,000 children each year.
The clinic comes to the corner of 126th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard in Harlem once a month.
Appointments are made through Montefiore. To learn more, Click here.
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