The Journey to Good Health
If you’ve ever had the unenviable duty of readying and transporting a child to soccer practice, music lessons, or a school play, you don’t need anyone to tell you how onerous such a task can seem. Getting out of the door with a young child or an infant can require a Herculean effort. And that’s in the best of circumstances.
Now imagine you’re a young mother with a family and one of your kids is sick and needs medical care. Lacking permanent housing, you’re living in a family homeless shelter or a de facto shelter in a city-sponsored hotel room. You don’t know the neighborhood. You don’t know the subway system or bus schedule and even if you did, you can’t afford them. Perhaps you don’t speak English. Imagine how paralyzing it is to overcome all those obstacles just to get your child to the doctor.
The Floating Hospital makes that trip more manageable through our Good Health Shuttle for our patients, ensuring they would not have to face the journey alone. That’s important because homeless families are often removed from their community and thrust into an entirely new environment, far from public transportation and often with safety concerns.
The shuttle is one of the many vital services that forward our mission of making comprehensive and compassionate health care accessible to all. It offers free, roundtrip shelter-to-clinic transport that meet our patients where they are and gives them the lift they need with dignity and safety—with few bumps in the road and a trusted driver specially trained to administer to families in stress.
“As ambassadors to the hospital, our drivers are the first faces that our patients see, and we make sure to bring the magic,” says transportation manager Leticia Gomez. “We think of ourselves as guardian angels.”
She added, “There are many instances of our drivers going above and beyond their duty of simply picking up and dropping off our patients. It’s that dedication that makes the shuttle so much more than a van service.”
The shuttle is also tapped to pick up donations, transport vaccines, bring staff to off-site workshops, and drop off summer school lunches. During the coronavirus pandemic, it was used to deliver prescriptions and essentials to families and seniors who were quarantined during the shutdown and used again to bring those seniors to pop-up vaccination clinics.
Gomez and her staff ensure the fleet of vans is up to date, including recent Samsara GPS and data collection technology that provides essential data for tracking the fleet’s efficiencies and performance. Information that previously would require manual oversight is now accurately recorded through the Samsara system and helps keep the minibuses on their best wheels. In 2022, the fleet of vehicles logged 138,860 miles, the equivalent to nearly 5.6 trips around the globe.
Iván Romero, director of families in temporary housing, explains the positive impact that the shuttle has had on the community: “The accessibility the shuttle provides for the families without homes is a lifeline. It can very well be the difference between a missed doctor’s appointment and an opportunity to improve the wellbeing of a family.”
Such efforts were recognized by The Pfizer Foundation and the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, which generously awarded grants to support the shuttle in the past two years.
This post featured in our monthly newsletter from March/April 2023.
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The Floating Hospital provides high-quality healthcare to anyone who needs it regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, immigration or insurance status, or the ability to pay. By providing unrestricted medical care in tandem with health education and social support to vulnerable New York City families, The Floating Hospital aims to ensure those most in need have the ability to thrive, not just survive.