Young people in Detroit often walk past empty lots on their way to school. In the nation’s poorest city, 65% of children live in households where no one holds a full-time, year-round job. Ironically, in the historic home of America’s auto industry, one of the greatest barriers to care is lack of transportation. The limited public transportation infrastructure has shrunk with recent budget cuts.
DELIVERING HEALTH CARE TO SCHOOLS
Due to budget woes and a declining population, Detroit’s School system has been forced to close dozens of schools in recent years, including some that previously housed school-based health clinics operated by Henry Ford Health Center. This mobile medical program put doctors and nurses on a state-of-the-art mobile medical clinic dubbed HANK - Health Alliance for Neighborhood Kids) and sent health care to the kids. The “doctor’s office on wheels” allows the medical team to get to the schools where the children already are. Medical Director, Dr. Elliott Attisha said, "We know that healthy children make healthy learners. Yet we also know that Detroit’s children face significant health care challenges. HANK is able to bring care directly to the child and has played an integral role in alleviating many of these barriers."
WHEN EVEN THE MOMS ARE KIDS
Since hitting the Motor City’s streets in March of 2011, the Detroit program has partnered with five schools, including the Catherine Ferguson Academy, a charter high school for pregnant and “new mom” teens so they can stay in school and graduate. There is daycare onsite. Many of these girls have to travel significant distances on public transportation to get to this special school. Already juggling school and parenting, getting to a distant clinic for health care would be tough to manage. Pulling right up in to the Academy parking lot, the two doctors, nurse, and medical assistant on the mobile unit provide care for both the mothers and their babies, keeping the whole family healthy.