Teen health van offers COVID testing to MVLA students and families


Abby Porter

The Stanford Children’s Health Teen Van is celebrating 25 years of providing support to bay area teenagers. Providing anything from sports physicals to mental health support, the van services students and families without health insurance and gets on average 11,000 patients a year with locations in East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, and San Mateo.

In the wake of the pandemic the van now provides a new service: coronavirus testing. 

According to Rosa Maldonato, the van’s Assistant Clinical Manager, the van has been struggling to find a location for the MVLA community after the school’s themselves were poorly trafficked, but provided COVID testing among other health services again on Nov. 4. 

Stanford Children’s Health Teen Van parked. Photo courtesy of stanfordchildrens.org.

Although they are still working with the city to determine the location, Maldonato and her associates are optimistic about the reopening; They have already tested 555 families since the van first started testing in May.

Entirely funded by grants and donations, the van collaborates with UCSF, who has offered to do the lab work for tests. After the test is taken, samples are sent to UCSF and patients and their families are typically informed of their results within three days so they can share them with employers.

It’s like your primary care doctor on wheels.

“We have a lot of students who are working and they require something saying that they’re negative,” Maldonato said. “A lot of families will prefer an email if they’re negative, so that they can present it to their work.”

Because many families do not have access to health insurance and affordable healthcare, the van has all the resources of a doctor’s office. According to Maldonato, it is staffed with male and female physicians, a social worker, and a dietician for nutrition support. While sports physicals and COVID testing require a parent signature, services like mental health support and “sensitive care”, which refers to family planning and substance counseling, are confidential. 

“It’s like your primary care doctor on wheels,” Maldonato said.

But unlike a primary care doctor, the teen health van ensures not only every student but their family as well are getting the resources they need. Students who have come in for a wellness visit and spoken about mental health with a social worker are provided with the resources they need. The van has started handing out food boxes to families and helping them get utilities as well, according to Maldonato, and will continue to do so.

The van is also catering to students who don’t want to take the risk of going in-person.

“If you feel stressed or if you need to speak to somebody, we are also doing telehealth visits,” Maldonato said.

To book an appointment and see all dates, visit https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/service/teen-van, call (650) 736-7172) or follow  @stanfordteenvan on Instagram.