The man said he was having chest pains, and his breathing was clearly labored. He wanted to talk to a doctor.
The big tent in the parking lot of an East Boston shopping mall seemed like an odd place for such a request, but he was a repeat visitor. It was Thursday night, and his medical friends were in the neighborhood for their weekly visit.
A medical student and a physician listened to his heart, checked his breathing, and encouraged him to visit the nearby community health center. He was skeptical about visiting the clinic but calmer. He said he felt better.
It was a routine visit to the Outreach Van, which regularly dispenses what might be called street medicine to needy people who are often reluctant to seek treatment through more traditional avenues.