One of Bridge Over Troubled Waters’s programs is their Mobile Medical Van, offering free and confidential medical advice, first aid, and referrals to homeless and street youth in the Boston area. On weekday evenings, the van travels through the streets of Cambridge and Boston, allowing at-risk teens and young adults access to medical care that they might not otherwise be able to receive. Most of these young people are uninsured, and they often don’t have the money to get transportation to a clinic. Even those who do have access to traditional medical services are often afraid to take advantage of them because of the risk that they may be turned in to police or social services, so the mobile van is important to ensuring their health and well-being without jeopardizing their safety.
A van is the perfect means of reaching runaway and homeless youth, who are at higher risk for developing infectious diseases while they are on the street. In addition to medical care, the volunteer team that staffs the van offers food and blankets, as well as information on how youth can access educational, housing, and career resources. The volunteers also act as supportive adults to whom youth who might not have other adults to talk to can reach out. Each year, Bridge’s vans assist more than three thousand young people in and around Boston. This program is an important part of helping to keep some of the most vulnerable people in the area healthy and safe.