Skip to content

A large blue RV pulls into the parking lot at San Mateo High School, bringing with it many things: critical medical care, COVID-19 tests, and a team of dedicated care providers.

This is the Stanford Children’s Health Teen Van, and Children’s Fund donors like you have helped it reach under-resourced youth for more than 20 years.

What does this clinic on wheels do, exactly? As it turns out, quite a bit.

Launched in 1996 by Seth Ammerman, MD, the Teen Van was one of the first mobile clinics in the nation specifically created to provide cost-free care for uninsured or homeless youth.

In 2019, Arash Anoshiravani, MD, who completed an adolescent medicine fellowship under now-retired Ammerman’s guidance, took over the helm as the Teen Van’s new medical director.

“The Teen Van has made a real difference in the lives and health of a generation of young people. It has served as a bridge helping youth and young adults going through tough times to get to the other side, to a healthy adult life. That is what we are about, and that is what our team is committed to continue doing,” says Anoshiravani. 

Watch our recent Deskside interview with Dr. Anoshiravani on how they have kept our community safe during COVID-19.

Today, the Teen Van’s dedicated staff includes Anoshiravani, a nurse practitioner, a social worker, a dietitian, and a registrar/driver. They travel to nine sites across Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties including local high schools and youth centers.

During visits, the team provides no-cost vaccines, mental health care, contraceptives, physical exams, nutritional counseling, and much more to patients ages 12 to 25 without health insurance. About 40 percent of the Teen Van’s patients are homeless or have been homeless in the past year.

“We know the Van itself is an amazing way to meet our patients where they are,” explains Anoshiravani. “But we also saw that we could do more, incorporating new technologies like telehealth visits so patients could access our services in an even more timely manner.”

The Teen Van and COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the Bay Area, Anoshiravani knew his patients and their families would be particularly at risk for the virus, as well as its economic, emotional, and physical repercussions.

He reached out to the community for support. Within weeks, donors stepped forward to fully cover the first eight weeks of COVID-19 testing (which started in June), and helped the Teen Van provide additional food assistance, toiletries, and face masks.

“We saw that young people and their families who were uninsured, housing insecure, and residing in underserved communities of color throughout the Bay Area were getting hit particularly hard,” Anoshiravani says. “The support for our efforts to not only address their health and testing needs, but also their food and financial needs, has been incredible!”

Still More Work to Do

With the pandemic showing little sign of slowing down soon, the team hopes to continue to provide COVID-19 testing beyond the initial eight weeks. Your support will help do that.

“This fall and winter will likely be critical times for learning how we can get back to some kind of normal before a vaccine becomes available,” says Anoshiravani. “The Teen Van will continue to be a uniquely flexible and effective resource for our patients, their communities, and the Bay Area as a whole as we navigate through the school year.”

Our Heartfelt Gratitude to the Teen Van's Supporters

We are so grateful for your support of the Children’s Fund. You enable the Teen Van to meet young people where they are and provide extraordinary health care. Additionally, we want to recognize a broad community of loyal donors who also make the Teen Van’s work with Bay Area youth possible, including Steve and Agatha Luczo, the Westly Foundation, our Auxiliaries, Children’s Health Fund, El Camino Healthcare District, and Peninsula Health Care District.

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 issue of the Children’s Fund Update.