CHICAGO — The Night Ministry's Health Outreach Bus has dropped one of its North Side stops, replacing it with a new twice-weekly hub in the Back of the Yards community.
"Our numbers were definitely lagging in Rogers Park. There wasn't a huge community in need of our services at this point. On the South Side, we only have one stop in South Shore and we've been talking to different aldermen who’d be welcoming of our services," said spokeswoman Stacy Massey.
The Ravenswood-based group found a willing partner in Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), who suggested 54th and Halsted streets as a place where the bus could make its twice-weekly rounds.
Founded in the late 1980s, the health outreach bus program was set up as an offshoot program of the Night Ministry, a resource agency for the city's poor and homeless. Today, the 38-foot-long custom vehicle carries with it a nurse practitioner, two health outreach ministers, interns and volunteers.
Inside, the nurse cares for basic cuts, scrapes and sore feet and sore throats and the team offers blood pressure and blood sugar checks, as well as testing for many illnesses, including HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
"Anything we can’t help out with, we refer out," Massey said.
The group also offers comfort and hospitality in the form of hot coffee, cookies, hygiene kits, new socks and warm winter gear.
And speaking of winter, the bus never cancels an appearance because of the weather — the group only cancels if the bus won't start. And if that happens, "we send a van it its place," Massey said.
The bus will visit the following locations each Monday and Wednesday:
• Hazel Street and Wilson Avenue in Uptown: 7-8:15 p.m.
• 54th and Halsted street in Back of the Yards: 8:45-10 p.m.
• Jeffery Boulevard and 71st Street in South Shore: 10:30- 11:30 p.m.
On Tuesday and Thursday, the bus visits the following locations:
• Division Street and California Avenue in Humboldt Park: 7-8:15 p.m.
• Cermak Road and Loomis Street in Pilsen: 8:45-10 p.m.
• LeMoyne Street and Damen Avenue in Wicker Park: 10:30-11:30 p.m.