Companion Care at the Mobile Clinic Project
In January 2016, an undergraduate coordinator and medical student coordinator of the Mobile Clinic Project teamed up with the vision to bridge the gap between street medicine and long-term primary care—thus, Companion Care was created. Since then, Companion Care has accompanied clients to appointments at Federally Qualified Health Centers on a weekly basis.
Companion Care seeks to build sustainable bridges between people experiencing homelessness and the existing health and social services network in Los Angeles. We do this through accompaniment—the practice and organizational philosophy that ensures our work is grounded in the experiences of our clients; that pushes us to imagine new paths forward when existing options are inadequate; and that recognizes our ultimate mission is not service, but solidarity.
We support our clients by navigating the system alongside them—scheduling medical appointments, arranging transportation, assisting with paperwork, and tackling anything else that could pose a barrier between our clients and the health care and social services that they deserve.
Ultimately, Companion Care believes that the road toward health equity — particularly for people experiencing homelessness and other forms of oppression—begins with humility and partnership.
How Our Program Works
Through our partnership with Wesley Health Center in East Hollywood, a local Federally Qualified Health Center, Companion Care is able to secure pre-scheduled primary care appointment slots for the clients that we serve at the Mobile Clinic Project.
Typically, CC services are most relevant to clients who are experiencing barriers to care. This may include, but not limited to, clients who:
Do not currently have a primary care physician
Have a chronic condition with poor, inconsistent, or nonexistent medical management
Have experienced past discrimination and/or trauma by the health care/social service system
Have particular barriers that make going to a clinic/social service office difficult
Have any other medical or social service needs beyond which MCP can address
Undergraduate volunteers will meet with a client at the Mobile Clinic Project’s Wednesday night clinic and work with the Companion Care coordinators to evaluate whether they would benefit from accompaniment and guidance through the healthcare system. If the client is interested in Companion Care services, companions then offer support in their journey to better health.
Clients determine the level of Companion Care assistance needed during their primary care appointment. Companions may:
Assist with navigating the clinic space
Assist with paperwork
Provide emotional support
At the end of the appointment, companions work with clients to formulate and document a follow-up plan, which can include providing accompaniment to follow-up appointments or further support with additional medical and social services.