Renewed investment paves way for ‘next generation’ mobile health bus, strengthening on-the-spot care to under-served and vulnerable clients

A $300,000 capital investment from the Rotary Club of Toronto Charitable Foundation helps Sherbourne Health Centre build a new and enhanced mobile health clinic for Toronto.

TORONTO, Mar. 24, 2017 – Sherbourne Health Centre has received a $300,000 capital investment from The Rotary Club of Toronto to help build a state-of-the-art mobile health clinic for its Health Bus program.

Sherbourne’s brand new mobile clinic will provide enhanced services, address a wider array of health issues and promote greater continuity of care in the delivery of primary care, mental health services and health education.

This “Health Bus 3.0” is the latest iteration of The Rotary Club of Toronto Health Bus, which has been in operation since 1996.  The first Bus was operated by the Wellesley Hospital until its closure, at which time it transferred to Sherbourne Health Centre in 2002.

Key features of the customized vehicle include a private and fully equipped exam room to offer quality on-board care, a separate consultation area for mental health counselling and health education visits, wheelchair accessibility in the form of an integrated chairlift, and temperature regulation and weather proofing for all-season functionality.

These enhancements to the Bus will make it possible for the program to:

  • expand target populations to include marginalized groups like aging homeless adults, people with mental health and substance use issues, the LGBTQ community and newcomers to Canada
  • advance on-the-spot health services by deploying nurse practitioners, physicians and mental health counsellors to work closely with existing outreach workers
  • focus on health promotion and education by delivering health campaigns and increasing referrals to ensure clients are connected with essential health services

The new Bus is currently being produced by a specialty company in Saskatchewan.  Sherbourne hopes the new vehicle will be on the road by late summer-early fall followed by a launch event.  This is a significant advancement in Sherbourne’s Health Bus program and a new era of mobile health services for homeless, under-housed and under-served communities in the city.

Quotes

“Health Bus 3.0 is purposefully designed to address the complex needs of our clients. The new model will offer comfort and privacy to clients, optimized space for clinicians, safety for clients and staff, and added features so we can successfully adapt to the healthcare needs of our evolving and diverse communities.”

– Chantel Marshall, Director, Urban Health, Sherbourne Health Centre

“Our Health Bus program has been instrumental in increasing health care access for street-involved people and connecting clients with primary care at Sherbourne. Allowing clinicians to practice at full scope on the Health Bus will contribute to a health system priority of diverting clients from emergency departments for conditions best treated in primary care. Essentially the Health Bus will evolve from being a connector to services, to functioning as a ‘Sherbourne on Wheels’ program that takes full primary care services to the people and places of most need.”

– Hazelle Palmer, CEO, Sherbourne Health Centre

“As a supporter of the Health Bus program for over 20 years, The Rotary Club of Toronto is proud to renew our investment in the new Health Bus.  Our club is passionate about projects that support and improve quality of life for the most vulnerable members of our communities.  We believe the Health Bus program plays a crucial role by bringing healthcare services to people who otherwise may not be able to get them.”

– Susan Hunter, President, The Rotary Club of Toronto

Quick Facts – Why a Health Bus?

  • The Rotary Club of Toronto Health Bus was the first of its kind in Canada and supports clients with over 10,000 homeless and under-housed visits annually.
  • According to a 2013 City of Toronto Needs Assessment: 5253 people were homeless; homeless seniors have more than doubled since 2009; roughly 30% of people living in Toronto’s family shelter system identify as newcomers to Canada; and one in five homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.
  • 37% of homeless individuals in Toronto report unmet health care needs.
  • Homeless people suffer from complex health conditions such as respiratory infections, poor dental and oral health, and skin and foot problems, as well as chronic conditions like diabetes and arthritis, and HIV infection and mental illness.
  • Homeless people face barriers to health care access, including: lack of an OHIP card; fear and negative past experiences with the healthcare system; lack of transportation to attend appointments; and discriminatory attitudes from healthcare providers.
  • The Rotary Club of Toronto’s capital investment from its Charitable Foundation is making it possible to build Health Bus 3.0, and services will be provided by healthcare providers from the Sherbourne Health Centre team. The program will continue to rely on support from companies, groups and individuals to fund outreach and supplies, such as personal health and hygiene items, for users of the Health Bus.

About Sherbourne Health Centre

Sherbourne Health Centre is an urban health agency in downtown Toronto that provides holistic primary care and chronic disease management, mental health services, health promotion and education, and outreach and social supports. Sherbourne’s doors are open to everyone, with a focus on the LGBTQ community, homeless and under-housed people and newcomers to Canada, whose complex needs are often not met by traditional health care. Sherbourne combines high quality clinical care with responsive, culturally appropriate community development programs that bring barrier-free services to people in the surrounding communities who need it most.

Contact

Jamie Louie
Communications Officer
Sherbourne Health Centre
Tel: 416-324-4100 ext. 5270
jlouie@sherbourne.on.ca