Breaking barriers: Mobile medical team takes action to care for the unsheltered

The name emblazoned on the side of their van says it all: Healthcare in Action.


“Our mission is to improve the lives of people experiencing homelessness – we do that through quality care and consistent care,” said Eddie Menacho, MPAP, PA-C , regional director of Healthcare in Action (HIA), a nonprofit organization and associated medical group that uses mobile clinics to reach unhoused people.


Since 2021, HIA has treated more than 6,000 patients with comprehensive medical care, behavioral health care and substance abuse support as well as helped house over 450 individuals, according to Menacho.


These impacts and more are among the reasons HIA received the Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) 2024 Creativity & Innovation Award, which “honors a provider, entity and community partner that exemplifies the courage to ‘break the mold’ in pursuit of innovative ways to address the health concerns of Inland Empire residents. This is demonstrated by daring to experiment and do something to truly shift the paradigm.”


“We do that by going to the people, whether that’s here in the parks, in the tents, in the alleys, under the bridges or sometimes, in the desert, in the IE,” Menacho said.


Enhanced Care Management (ECM) provides additional support to “make sure our patients don’t fall through the cracks,” Menacho said.


The HIA team makes it a practice to listen to patients, learn what is most important to them, what problems they face, then “meet them where they’re at,” Menacho added.


Consistency is key.


“They see our faces, they see our van, they see our team … not just seeing the clinical team, they’re seeing our peer navigators, and they see that on a long period of time, trust gets developed,” Menacho said. “If you don’t have the trust with the patient, they’re not going to go home and take that medication, they’re not going to go to the appointment. And so, if we center around their goals and we develop that trust, that’s what can push them further along the line of quality care.”


ECM services can include delivering medication, accompanying patients to appointments or something as simple as getting someone a shower.


HIA personnel also break down barriers such as food, shelter, transportation, insurance, job training and re-entry programs.


“All of this takes different organizations that allow us to do that,” Menacho said. “None of this we can do by ourselves – and so, just got to say a huge thank you to all the partners that we’ve worked with in the past and this is something that we’ll continue to do in the future.”