For the past 22 years, The Rotary Club of Toronto Health Bus, a program of Sherbourne Health Centre, has served homeless people in Toronto. With up to 10,000 client visits annually, the Health Bus reduces barriers by bringing health care directly to people in our city who need it most. In 1996, the Rotary Club of Toronto funded the first Rotary Club of Toronto Health Bus, the first mobile health vehicle in Canada that made stops directly in the community. In 2005, the Health Bus was replaced and in the fall of 2017, the third generation Health Bus hit the streets thanks to the generous support of the Rotary Club of Toronto Foundation.
As we start 2018, the services the Health Bus provides are as vital as ever. Pervasive homelessness continues to exist in Toronto (the 2013 City of Toronto Street Needs Assessment found that 5,231 people were homeless). Homeless people suffer from a wide range of health problems and the severity of their conditions can be exacerbated by extreme poverty, delays in seeking care and the health effects of homelessness.
The demographics of homeless and marginalized communities are also changing. Although the primary care sector has expanded to increase access, for many still, barriers to care remain so severe that the Health Bus’s model of literally taking the care to those people continues to be a critical need. 
After 20 years of service, Sherbourne evaluated and relaunched the Health Bus program. We expanded our target populations to include groups such as aging homeless people, newcomers to Canada, and LGBTQ youth. We also enhanced the model of care. On-the-spot services are provided by a Nurse Practitioner who can diagnose, treat and monitor chronic illnesses and infectious diseases, provide advanced wound care and prescribe medications. A Mental Health Counsellor provides counselling and addictions support. Health promotion and education are prioritized, including the delivery of health education campaigns such as diabetes or Hepatitis C.
The new Health Bus is a state-of-the-art mobile health clinic. Fully customized in consultation with Sherbourne’s Health Bus staff, features include a comfortable and fully equipped private exam room, a separate private consultation space, wheelchair accessibility, and temperature regulation to increase comfort and dignity for clients accessing services.