By Adam Strunk
Trust, cost, transportation and scheduling all can stand in the way of health care access in Harvey County.
That’s according to Sara Kelly, coordinator of the Health Ministries Mobile Clinic.
The clinic–a tricked-out Winnebago–functions as a 38-foot health clinic on wheels, set up to make health care as simple and easy to get as possible.
“We don’t want barriers to be the reason why you don’t show up for health care,” she said.
They’ve been driving the unit around the community to different locations this year. Since April, work has ramped up to serve as many people as possible and to build up community awareness about the service.
“You can get in live, in real-time,” Kelly said, explaining that currently many medical offices and doctors have long waits.
Thursday, June 30, for instance, they planned to conduct a community outreach event with Peace Connections and the New Creation Preschool in the morning. They scheduled a health clinic at Our Lady of Guadelupe Church to follow up in the afternoon.
Kelly said outreach events helped more community members to learn about services the clinic provided as well as build relationships with the clinic. She said Health Ministries also has been posting about the clinic online as well as distributing fliers in high-traffic areas to help those without access to the Internet.
Providing services at different locations helps make health care more convenient and expands access to those who might not be able to drive to a doctor’s office or be able to wait weeks for an appointment.
“Health care is swamped,” she said, referencing the long waits sometimes it takes to establish care with a physician.
She said that the mobile unit can treat “pretty much anything below an ER visit.”
She said that could be something like getting a prescription refilled or a routine illness like a cold or flu treated.
The clinic can also provide preventative care and access to a health care provider. It can provide physicals, medical and dental screenings, treat minor injuries, help manage chronic diseases, conduct blood draws for lab tests and provide chronic disease management services.
Services are available for all who show up at the clinic. Insurances are accepted, but payment on an income-based scale is also available.
The mobile unit is an initiative by the Health Ministries Clinic.
The clinic serves as the largest primary care provider in Harvey County as well as a federally qualified health care center.
It charges for health care on a sliding scale based on income and provides other services such as behavioral health care, a pharmacy and dental care.
Around $375,000 in Federal American Recovery Plan Act money helped fund the mobile clinic.
It has two full examination rooms, restrooms with a toilet and sink, a waiting room and a wheelchair lift.
It also has a lab area, refrigerator, desk and blood draw area and is powered by a Ford V-10 engine, as well as a commercial diesel generator.
Currently, it’s being used to provide easier and more affordable access to medical care for community members throughout the county.
It’s been deployed in the past for vaccination clinics and can be deployed for other uses, such as assisting with a community emergency.
It has running water and backup power. With fully stocked examination rooms, the clinic could be used to provide emergency care, as well as examinations following a natural disaster.
For more information about the clinic or to find its schedule, visit www.hmcks.org/mobile.