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Local health center takes its services on the road

Duffy Health Center's new REACH van
Courtesy Duffy Health Center
Duffy Health Center's new REACH van

A local health center is taking services on the road with the launch of a new mobile unit.

Starting August 14, Duffy Health Center’s new REACH van will make weekly stops in Dennis, Falmouth, Hyannis, Mashpee, and Yarmouth.

Duffy Health Center provides care to people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness on Cape Cod.

The REACH (Respectful, Equitable Access to Compassionate Healthcare) van will provide access to basic hygiene and showers.

It will be staffed by a case manager, as well as a post-overdose harm reductionist.

Daniel Rodrigues is Director of Substance Use Disorder and Outreach Programs.

He said transportation can be a barrier for people in need of services.

“Either they don’t have access to their own means of transportation, or they feel as though the public transportation system isn’t as active as they need to be able to make their appointments and other life milestones,” he said.

Rodrigues said keeping the van’s schedule consistent is key for people when they’re in need of services.

“It may take a little bit time for folks to know we’re there, better understand what we do, what we can provide," he said. "To have even just the knowledge that we exist, and will continue to exist in those locations—until they either are comfortable enough seeking those services for themselves or prospectively for someone that they love.”

The van will stop in Yarmouth and Dennis on Mondays, Falmouth and Mashpee on Tuesdays, and Hyannis on Wednesdays.

Duffy Health Center will post details on locations and schedules on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

Rodrigues said the center is looking for funds to expand to more towns on the Cape.

“We desire to see this intervention succeed and to really serve some of our communities that we tend not to have a major presence in, that have some of our most marginalized community members,” he said.

The van also provides recovery support, fentanyl test strips, and access to Narcan, the life-saving medicine that can reverse opioid overdoses.

The van was purchased with federal COVID relief funds.

The Town of Mashpee also awarded Duffy a share of their opioid settlement funds for some operating costs.

Brian Engles is an author, a Cape Cod local, and a producer for Morning Edition.