A program is in the works to have students in the University of Delaware’s Health Sciences program ride around in a van providing care in Wilmington.
St. Francis Hospital has two vans.
The St. Clare van delivers care to people who are homeless, poor or uninsured. It is used to hand out Narcan and offer clean needle exchange.
St. Francis and UD are piecing together a plan to have students use the other van as a second mobile medical center.
UD Director of Community Partnerships Rita Landgraff says this could be an opportunity for students to step out of the classroom and get real-world experience that has an impact in the community.
“Especially in communities that have multiple challenges relative to access to healthcare and access to other things that promote well-being,” said Landgraff.
Dr. Sandy Gibney is the Associate Chairman of Emergency Services at St. Francis. She paid for part of the van, and the program is her idea.
“Basically I’m trying to get the young students to have a community medicine experience which is often lacking in institutions,” said Gibney.
The details of the partnership between St. Francis and UD still need to be ironed out. That includes finalizing how to fund the project, which communities will be targeted and which students can participate.
But both say the van will likely target homeless camps in the 19801, 19802 and 19805 Wilmington area codes.
Gibney says she expects the van will offer things like pregnancy tests, clean needle exchange and medication-assisted treatment to people with substance abuse disorder.
Landgraff and Gibney both say the hope is to have the program ready for the fall semester.