What Goes in the Backpack?
Street medicine providers should use an outreach backpack. The contents can differ based on regional variances and the extent of medical care the program intends to provide. We recommend a backpack that can wrap securely around the waist. A rolling bag can also be used.
Dr. King with a Citypak on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Citypak, a nonprofit, has donated countless backpacks for the unsheltered people on and near Venice Beach. Venice Family Clinic Photos.
The following are suggested supplies for the backpack:
- Diagnostic equipment—Blood pressure monitor (manual with standard and large adult cuff sizes), laser forehead thermometer or ear thermometer, stethoscope, portable fingertip pulse oximeter, glucose monitor, otoscope and ophthalmoscope, portable scale, urine drug toxicity cups (if administering medically assisted drug treatment in the field).
- Medical supplies—Gloves, hand sanitizer, masks (surgical, N95), bandages, cotton swabs, alcohol prep pads, lancets, Unna boot bandages, sterile and non-sterile gauze pads (4×4, 2×2), roll gauze, tape, scissors, suture and staple remover kits, 21 gauge needles, toenail clipper, wound closure strips, ACE wraps (all sizes), ear cuvette, ear speculum, tongue depressors, scalpel.
- Medications—Acute vs. chronic (most outreach will mostly include acute care); antibiotics, albuterol inhalers; analgesics; antihistamines; topical preparations (including bacitracin for field-use and distribution, antifungal, and steroid creams or ointments), long-acting steroids (inhaled and oral), injectable antipsychotics and samples of corresponding pill form and emergency medication (IM epinephrine and IM or inhaled naloxone). Note that the amount and type of medications will vary based upon health insurance coverage, pharmacy access, provider comfort level, and state pharmacy laws regulated physician/NP/PA dispensing.
- Technology—iPad (or similar) tablet or cell phone for access to clinic databases.
Items for distribution—Socks, water, food, hygiene kits, clinic information, business cards, transportation vouchers, gift cards, sunscreen, condoms.