Mobile Health: A New Approach
Through our Mobile Health strategy, we have developed innovative, forward-thinking responses to the complex health challenges of our most vulnerable populations. With this method of delivering care, we are preventing people from falling into crisis and needing to access emergency services that are already at full capacity.
Using a holistic, accessible approach, we provide blood work in our mobile labs, critical medications to those who cannot afford them, tooth sealants for children of low-income families, and a non-judgmental space for youth who may be experiencing anxiety, depression or addictions issues.
Our mobile health units are also the most visible representation of The Alex in action: Taking our advanced medical and dental units when and where they’re needed most.
Community Health Bus
Providing the right care, in the right place, at the right time is a lot easier when the doctor’s office is on wheels. The Alex Community Health Bus hit the streets in 2001, and has since supported thousands of Calgarians by providing direct medical and social services at no cost to at-risk youth and our most vulnerable in poverty and homelessness.
With a doctor, nurse, and client support specialist on board, the bus visits shelters, partner community organizations, and high schools, bringing a kind and welcoming face to what is an otherwise dark and difficult place for many. Our brand new Community Health Bus launched in December 2019.
Unique patients seen in 2018/19
visits with a physician
One day, a man named Trevor walked into The Alex with an envelope in hand. He was greeted warmly by a receptionist who asked him who he was there to see.
Trevor began to describe a story of survival, a story of thriving. Eight years earlier, he had been homeless with a crippling drug and alcohol addiction that severely jeopardized his health. He felt completely without hope, and saw no options for redirecting his life.
Then, one day, he saw The Alex Community Health Bus parked outside of the Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope downtown. The bus was a block away, and Trevor had no idea how long it had been there for, or how long it would stay. He made the decision to walk towards the bus. With each slow step, his hope grew stronger that the bus wouldn’t drive away, and that he would have enough strength to make it there.
When he reached the bus, he took the three most important steps of his life: up the three small stairs that lead onto the bus. At the top of those stairs he met Dr. Berlin. Trevor now reflects that this was the moment his life changed.
Now, eight years later, Trevor is clean and sober. He recently married the love of his life at the summit of a mountain. Today on the doorsteps of The Alex, he handed the receptionist the envelope. Inside was a donation of $500 – his way, he said, of saying thank you to Dr. Berlin and the team that helped him reclaim the life he deserved.
Youth Health Bus
The Alex Youth Health bus is a youth-specific clinic on wheels that not only provides medical services, but social support as well. With a physician, nurse, and client support specialist on board at all times, youth have access to what they need right then and there.
The YHB visits 8 high schools, providing teens with:
- Someone to talk to
- Mental health support & general medical care
- Pregnancy testing & support
- Birth control education, prescriptions & supplies
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing & treatment
- Referrals to community resources & services
visits to the YHB in the 2018/19 school year
of students reported that their visit had a positive impact on their mental health
Huda is 19 and currently studying at the University of Calgary. She was first introduced to the Alex Youth Health Bus during Grade 11, when she was struggling with anxiety and coping in unhealthy ways. Huda decided to see her school counsellor, who recommended the doctor on The Alex Youth Health Bus. When Huda first met with Dr. Deb on the bus, she was really shy. It was difficult to explain what she was feeling, because she didn’t really understand what was going on herself. She soon realized how easy it was to talk to the staff on the bus. “They didn’t look at me weird or make me feel embarrassed. Each visit they would take time with me and we would work together to develop better habits and coping strategies.”
“Meeting with a doctor who understood me was one of the biggest reliefs in high school. I had a support system that would give me a shoulder to cry on when I needed it, one I knew I could rely on.” The Alex Youth Health Bus brought people into Huda’s life who showed her that she could overcome obstacles, and that she could get better.
Every week Huda noticed she would have a better attitude and found more things to smile about. “[The Youth Health Bus’] influence has allowed me to develop better character, better grades, and a deeper appreciation for the world. I appreciate them for helping me achieve a healthier lifestyle and for taking an interest in me and not only my problems.”
Huda began making positive changes in her life, like joining more sports teams, clubs, and after-school programs.
“I don’t know where I would be today if I did not experience being on the Youth Health Bus. They were the best support system that I received in high school and my entire experience there has shaped me into the confident and resilient woman I am today. I am thankful to have had the Alex Bus attend my high school.”
Dental Health Bus
The Alex Dental Health Bus visits high-need elementary schools in Calgary, educating kids on the importance of dental hygiene and providing preventative services such as sealants and fluoride treatments.
Clients are low-income, non-insured or underinsured, and shoulder the greatest burden of dental disease.
We take action because we know dental disease often leads to chronic pain, infection, lowered self-esteem, and compromised performance at school and work, with links to systemic illnesses such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and pneumonia.
patients seen since 2013
of children on the DHB have untreated cavities
Mujda first visited the Dental Health Bus (DHB) when she was in Grade 1. She was very quiet but cooperative on the bus, and not at all nervous. The hygienist looked in her mouth and found cavities and decay on her baby teeth as well as her newly erupted permanent molars.
“It is always heartbreaking when we see rampant decay because we know if the child is not yet in pain, they will be very soon,” said the dental hygienist.
Mujda’s teeth needed to be urgently addressed, so the DHB staff called home to find out if the family had the means to access dental care for her. They learned her father had been trying to get dental coverage through a government program for the first time, but the family had been denied because their income was just above the poverty line. Mujda’s father expressed that he could not afford the high cost of dental work for his family, so Mujda had never been to a dentist.
Now in Grade 4, Mujda has been to seven Dental Access Clinics, where local dentists have generously volunteered to do restorative work at no cost to the patient, saving Mujda’s family over $2000 to date. The staff on the DHB also taught her how to properly brush and floss to maintain good dental health and hopefully prevent future problems.
The urgent care Mujda required has been completed and it is the hope that her parents will be able to find a family dentist for on-going care. Mujda expressed that she’s very happy her teeth are all fixed, and her father has said she’s smiling now more than ever!
Mobile Health: How You Can Help
The committed supporters we already have on board include Alberta Health, TELUS Health, Green Shield Canada, and individual and special event donors. As the need for our mobile health program grows in Calgary, we remain dedicated to ensuring children, youth, and adults can access the right care, in the right place at the right time. That’s why we are opening up the opportunity for new organizations and donors to join us.
We’re inviting you to become part of this select group of Mobile Health supporters. With your help, we’ll be able to maintain, repair or replace the units as required, and update our equipment to continue working with the communities that need us.
This opportunity is special because of the work we do, and its impact and reach. In partnering with us, you will expand YOUR reach and impact in Calgary.
Where the Need is
The goal is for the mobile health programs to become cost-neutral through partnerships with community-oriented organizations like yours to continue offering the programs in a sustainable and efficient way.
The need for each bus is approximately $500k per year for a total annual goal of $1.5M for the total program.
Together, we can keep The Alex Mobile Health Buses on the road and supporting people in the heart of our communities.
How You Can Help
There are a number of ways you can support The Alex Mobile Health program, including sponsorship, philanthropic giving, gift-in-kind support, and engagement from you and your team. Funding opportunities include general funding, a portion of the budget, a specific bus or a specific part of programming. We are open to partnering in ways that align with your goals and mission.
Through philanthropic giving you are able to:
- Access a variety of engagement opportunities such as team volunteering.
- Be recognized in our Annual Report, at our Report to Community event, and at other events where the bus is profiled.
- Receive a charitable tax receipt (as per guidelines set out by the Canada Revenue Agency)
As a sponsor, you will have the opportunity to:
- Place your logo and/or name on the outside of the bus or on a specific portion of the bus. Our fleet journey throughout Calgary every day.
- Be recognized on collateral materials.
- Attend tours, host speakers, and provide a booth when appropriate at events that highlight mobile health.