When the world pandemic began, one young doctor discovered that the strain on hospitals created a new hurdle for the homeless to receive proper medical care. Taking the initiative, Dr. Daniel Nour, 26, launched Side Street Medics, which provides mobile healthcare to some of society’s most vulnerable patients.
Now, Dr. Nour has been honored as the New South Wales Young Australian of the Year, 2022, which is helping the organization expand and gain recognition.
Dr. Nour explained to James Cook University that a random encounter with a homeless man gripped by a seizure was the impetus for the organization. After providing emergency care for the man and calling an ambulance, he struck up a conversation with another homeless individual who explained the hardship that the homeless experience in regard to seeking medical help.
He was informed that homeless communities feel abandoned by National Health Services (NHS), which is often skeptical of their calls. He was told that it is often assumed that their medical problems are ruses to attain prescription drugs, while other times their calls are not taken seriously or are even ignored.
Dr. Nour expressed his surprise that a portion of the community felt like they were not viewed as worthy of medical care:
“She seriously had the sense that the healthcare system cared less for her than for the average person in society. That really slapped me in the face.”
Side Street Medics
So it was that the Egyptian-Australian Coptic Christian took up the charge and started Side Street Medics. According to the website, their mission is to bring “an exceptional standard of healthcare” to homeless communities in Australia. In order to do this, they organize their hundreds of volunteers to run medical clinics and even a mobile unit that brings urgent care to the streets.
The services they provide include health examinations, diagnosis and treatment, developing healthcare plans, immunizations, pathology, nutritional advice, minor procedures, and referrals. In the brief years since Side Street Medics was launched, they have also expanded their services by creating partnerships with medical specialists.
Young Australian of the Year
Side Street Medics has been so successful in their mission that Dr. Nour was awarded the NSW Young Australian of the Year award. This recognition has drawn even more volunteers into the fold, allowing them to expand their services. Soon, they will even have a secondary mobile unit to spread their reach across the nation.
According to Egypt Today, Dr. Nour said at the award ceremony:
“I couldn’t live with myself knowing there are Australians suffering from medical conditions that could be treated. The team of Street Side Medics has given and continues to give breath to the breathless, hope to those who have lost hope, and love to those who are unloved.”
Faith of the homeless
While Dr. Nour, a Coptic Christian, said he was not the best Christian when it comes to faith-practice (prayer, regular church attendance, etc.), he excels at walking the walk. He considers his faith to be his guide, a trait he says is shared by many in the homeless community.
“In our society we feel a little bit shy or embarrassed to say I’m a strong Christian. Maybe someone will ridicule you for that. In the homeless population it’s very different—many of them are really faith-driven.” Dr. Nour added, “They always talk about God: ‘I really need God’s help, I really need God’s strength,’ or ‘I’ve stopped drinking thanks to God—it’s all him.’”
Dr. Nour recalled one instance in which he was driving a woman with an infected wound to the hospital. He said that she talked about how she lost her family’s savings in a gamble and had been on the streets for seven years. The woman was grappling with guilt over leaving her family and Nour leaned on her Catholic faith when he implored her to forgive herself.
“Just reminding her about her faith—which she believes—alleviated her anxiety a lot and then started to give her the confidence to forgive herself.” Nour recalled to Christian Weekly. “We had that conversation four, five, six times and read the Bible together a few times.”