When teens can’t go to the doctor, Dr. Seth Ammerman brings his office directly to them.
Ammerman runs a mobile health clinic out of a big, blue bus — making stops on the campuses of seven high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area to provide free health care for teens.
He treats 400 young people every year in his “Teen Health Van”. Forty percent of those patients are homeless and many of the youth have never seen a doctor because their families couldn’t afford an office visit.
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The doctor says you can’t expect kids in that situation to seek out a practitioner—someone has to “meet them where they are.”
It’s not just quick medical care he’s providing. Ammerman’s team also provides counseling for depression, abusive relationships, and drug use. A dietitian works with malnourished teens — common among the poor and homeless kids the van reaches.
The van is a project of the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford and the Children’s Health Fund which has been providing the service for 20 years now. They just rolled out a new version of the van equipped with Wi-Fi and a lab that can give out HIV test results in 20 minutes.
“Going to the patients makes all the difference,” Ammerman told NPR News, “and it’s not just a matter of convenience. It really is that these kids, because of all these access barriers — lack of insurance, lack of transportation — they’re not going to get this kind of care unless we go to them.”
(WATCH the video below from KNTV News) — Photo: Stanford Medicine