New Mobile Outreach Van Takes Health Care to the Streets

Thursday, November 19, 2009 - 9:00am

Halifax, November 19, 2009 – Today, the Mobile Outreach Street Health (MOSH) program announced the official launch of a mobile van service with a community celebration that took place at the Brunswick Street United Church in Halifax. The outreach van is like a ‘health office’ on wheels – providing on-the-spot care for those living on the street, homeless and underserved populations living in Halifax.

A partnership between the North End Community Health Centre, Capital Health and a number of government, business and community partners, the goal of the outreach van is to proactively take health care beyond the hospital walls and into the shelters, community centres and soup kitchens. The program provides primary health care services – from vaccinations, blood work, and chronic disease management to birth control, HIV and Hepatitis C testing – in a safe, welcoming and comfortable space.

“We’ve created an innovative and collaborative approach to delivering primary health care services to those who are sometimes underserved,” said Patti Melanson, MOSH street nurse and program collaborator. “This allows people to take on their own health care, on their own terms. More importantly it works for people who are homeless, who are on the streets and whose lives are upside down for whatever reason.”

MOSH is made up of a team of frontline health workers including local physicians, nurses and occupational therapists with a common goal of improving access to health care for those on the street. The MOSH team saw more than 80 individuals during the first week of operations and cared for more than 226 people during the month of September 2009. With the introduction of the mobile outreach van, MOSH hopes to provide even more care and services for the homeless.

"MOSH is a wonderful example of the power of collaboration to provide a much-needed service to people who have traditionally been underserved by our system. We have the power to truly influence the health of our communities with this initiative, and that's exciting," said Lynn Edwards, Health Services Director, Primary Health Care, Capital Health.

The official launch of the mobile outreach van was a community celebration and a thank you to all the government, business and local agencies involved in bringing the MOSH program and van to life. Joining the celebrations was Mr. Bill Charnetski, Vice-President, Corporate Affairs and General Counsel for AstraZeneca Canada, who announced that the company will be providing additional funding to the MOSH program, taking their total contribution to $500,000 over five years.

“Regardless of where or how a person lives, we believe every Canadian has the right to quality care,” said Mr. Charnetski. “As part of our Frontline Health Program, AstraZeneca helped co-create the MOSH program as well as provide much-needed funding for the initiative, including the mobile van."

“This program has been a long time in development, a long time awaiting reality!" said Sharon Lawlor Health Team Manager, North End Community Health Centre.
"However, I feel the thoroughness that took place during its development phase has paid off. Halifax now has a program that has captured the best of all outreach programs from across Canada. Like the rest of us, our marginalized population deserves good access to primary health care services."