In the first week of 2023, The Night Ministry debuted its brand-new Health Outreach Bus on Chicago's streets, bringing free health care, food, and other resources to neighborhoods with high rates of homelessness and poverty.
The new vehicle includes helpful features such as exterior illumination and secure and refrigerated storage for medications. The Bus also has multiple entrances, which help facilitate increased confidentiality for health care patients and case management clients.
2023's Bus replaces a 2013 model worn out from years of wear and tear. A second new Bus is currently in production and will be ready later this year.
"We really used it till its last mile, until it finally would not work anymore. The new vehicle is built much more solidly, so it's going to be more durable on the streets of Chicago," said David Wywialowski, Director of Outreach and Health Ministry. "We based the current design on what worked and what didn't in the previous one. The Health Outreach Program team was part of the design planning."
In addition to its special features, the new Bus is shorter in length and height than its predecessor, a response to staff requests.
"The old Bus was not drivable in many areas of Chicago because it was so big," said Lead Outreach Minister Juan Roca. "The new bus is a little bit smaller. It can be driven anywhere."
And it offers a great experience for clients too. "The medical exam space has its own separate entrance, and it is quiet and free from interruptions, creating a therapeutic environment," explained Nurse Practitioner Summer Kee.
The new vehicle allows staff to continue to provide services in a way that demonstrates how much The Night Ministry values those it serves.
"Offering clients the dignity and respect to be seen in a professional office is very important to us. They might be hesitant for any number of reasons about why they're not going to a clinic on their own, but they trust us and our staff," said Wywialowski. "We are proud to offer them a mobile health office that is as professional as any brick-and-mortar clinic."
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