The Community Grants Program was created by CVS Health as part of our commitment to building healthier communities. These grants support nonprofit organizations that are providing much-needed access to health care for at-risk and underserved populations. One grantee is The Floating Hospital’s Good Health Shuttle Program, which provides free roundtrip transportation to patients in the family shelter system. Shani Andre, MD, The Floating Hospital’s Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, shares how her organization is helping people on their path to better health.
Tell us about a day at the Floating Hospital. Who do you serve and what kinds of services do you provide?
We primarily serve homeless families and women and children living in domestic violence safe houses. Their needs are complicated, immediate and ever-changing, so we must be flexible and accommodating to best serve our families. Our medical home model provides primary care services for patients of all ages. Essentially, we provide a “one-stop shop” model of care that includes services and specialties needed by our families, including cardiology, podiatry, dental, mental health, substance abuse counseling, health education, and entitlements counseling, which reduces the need for referrals and follow-up appointments that are often neglected by struggling, low-income patients.
How does the Floating Hospital address the medical needs of your community?
We focus on addressing immediate needs, including physicals required to move into shelters and immunizations to allow kids to return or remain in school. From there, we address preventive care services with the goal of keeping our families healthy and chronic conditions controlled. Our families also face disproportionately high rates of domestic violence and TFH addresses their urgent need for specialized mental health care. For instance, many children come to TFH suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Our team is trained to work with these families and help them conquer their psychological damage from abuse, as well as their feelings of isolation and upheaval.
How has the funding you received from CVS Health helped to improve your program?
Funding from CVS Health supports the Good Health Shuttle, a van transportation service that TFH provides to our patients at no charge. Every day, TFH’s fleet of 10 passenger vans makes 100 trips to family homeless shelters and domestic violence safe houses located throughout New York City, bringing patients directly to our clinic in Long Island City, Queens. Many homeless families can’t afford or easily access public transit, so the van service plays a vital role in giving them free, convenient access to care at TFH. Transportation services aren’t reimbursable under health insurance plans, so TFH relies on supporters like CVS in order to provide this vital program to our homeless family patients.
Can you share an example of someone who has benefited from the services that the Floating Hospital provides?
TFH recently helped Sofia, mother of two to quit a longtime smoking habit. While Sofia initially struggled to give up smoking, she recognized the importance of quitting to her own health and that of her children, and she credits TFH with supporting her through a tough withdrawal period. Three months after quitting, Sofia says she no longer thinks about smoking, and has not used smoking to cope with stress as she did in the past.
TFH will continue to support Sofia and her family. When asked about her overall experiences with our programs, Sofia said, “I went through a lot. If it wasn’t for them, The Floating Hospital, I don’t know where I would’ve been right now.”