Photo courtesy of Children’s Health Fund/Louis Zlotowicz

At a mobile clinic in New Orleans, Tulane University pediatrician John C. Carlson, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of the New Orleans Children’s Health Project, is assisted by nurse Kenya Johnson.

One morning, you might visit a homeless shelter, treat a 3-year-old with undiagnosed asthma and help her mother understand why an asthma action plan will prevent most emergency department (ED) visits.

Two hours later, you could see a homeless teenage girl who suffers from multiple medical conditions, is underweight and is stricken with anxiety and depression. Later that afternoon, you might treat a teenage boy who has a massive bacterial infection — and help save him just minutes from death.

Welcome to the unpredictable — and sometimes overwhelming — world of a mobile pediatrician.

In dozens of cities and towns, pediatricians in mobile units look for patients who often do not live in...

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