Free Medical Care Available Weekly
For those who live on the streets, who have no home, job, or advocate to speak up for them, New York City can be a difficult place to get proper medical care.
Out on the streets and subways, homeless men and women are exposed to the elements year-round, putting them at risk of frostbitten feet in the winter and sunstroke in the summer. Without access to primary care doctors, the homeless use the city's emergency rooms. Research shows that, compared to homeless families, homeless single adults in the shelters and on the streets have much higher rates of severe health problems (source: Coalition for the Homeless). Diabetes, asthma, hypertension, and foot-related diseases are all common problems.
In response to this immense need, The Bowery Mission started a volunteer-run medical clinic in 2002, funded by a grant from Hope For New York, who also provides many of the volunteer doctors and nurses. Since then, the clinic has provided over 10,000 appointments. The goal is to provide the highest quality medical care in a barrier-free setting for those who often have no other way to access medical care.
Every Wednesday night, the second floor of The Bowery Mission transforms into a medical clinic. Patients make appointments during the evening chapel service and then go up to the waiting area, where they receive dinner and are examined by a nurse—who then refers them to a doctor. An optometry clinic is provided four times a month. Three times a month they are funded and operated by SUNY School of Optometry, which also operates every other Tuesday at our East Harlem location. In addition, we partner with Project Renewal to provide additional medical appointments, medication management, and psychiatric evaluation for our guests.
The medical clinic helps patients manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, dermatologic conditions and asthma. Doctors and nurses also mend wounds, tend to injuries, diagnose sickness, deliver vaccines and refer patients to specialists and hospitals. The optometry clinic receives donations of frames and works with a local optician to make lenses.
The Bowery Mission's meal programs and outreach programs enable us to meet men and women in crisis and invite them to use our medical clinic services. For those who are struggling with substance abuse or addictions, we are able to offer them opportunities in our residential recovery programs for men and for women.