July 17, 2019
“I can’t even begin to express the peace of mind that is knowing that your child has everything that they need,” said Dilenia, holding her 22-month-old daughter Sophia.
Addressing the crowd on July 12 at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newest Children’s Health Fund (CHF) mobile medical clinic in New York City, Dilenia recalled the tough days following Sophia’s birth. They were homeless and juggling medical visits for Sophia, who has Down syndrome and a related heart condition. After they were connected with Children’s Health Fund’s New York program during a hospital stay, CHF helped the family find placement in affordable housing, and connected Dilenia with her own mental and physical healthcare. Now living in her own permanent home with continuous healthcare, Dilenia is enrolled in school and full of hope for the future.
Dilenia’s story of hardship reflects those of the countless families who will be served by the new mobile clinic. The unit will travel to homeless shelter sites across New York City to provide free comprehensive healthcare and mental health screenings to families living in the shelters. This mobile clinic follows the innovative model that CHF pioneered in 1987: bringing high-quality primary healthcare directly to families who need it most. Our mobile clinics eliminate some of the many access barriers that so many families face, making it easier for them to receive the care they need. But our providers don’t stop there: families also receive help with food and housing insecurity, and other services.
Watch this story about the new mobile clinic on News 12.
LaPorsha, another young mother, was living in a domestic violence shelter when she came aboard a CHF mobile clinic to receive care for her son. There, doctors also helped her with her own acute health needs. “There is so much stigmatization about homelessness in our society,” said LaPorsha, expressing the relief she has felt to have had the care and resources she has received from CHF over the last three years.
Today there are over 60,000 people in homeless shelters in NYC; 45,000 are children. It is alarming that nearly half of the children in shelters are under six years old—the most critical years for development. Tragically, children who experience homelessness have been shown to have increased risk of serious health problems and lower academic performance.
The new mobile clinic and an accompanying minivan was made possible as part of a $700,000 grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, and will enable the CHF New York Program — known as the New York Children’s Health Project (NYCHP) at Montefiore — to provide care to nearly 3,000 homeless children and families in NYC annually.