Mobile health units bring clinics to rural Valley neighborhoods | News

Mobile health clinics are an innovative model of health care that can help alleviate health disparities in rural areas and for vulnerable populations.

“These mobile units can provide services directly into communities and offer tailored high-impact health care that responds to the community’s needs,” said Andrew Zechman, the mobile medical coordinator for Evangelical Community Hospital.

The Evangelical Mobile Medical Clinic is partnered up with Penn College to provide dental services, and partnered up with Penn State’s School of Medicine.

“We pretty much do everything we can here, from a primary care perspective,” Zechman said. “And we do have some specialty providers who are able to come out to see individuals as well.”

Similarly, with new mobile technologies and its mobile heath clinic units, Geisinger Medical Center in Danville is extending its reach beyond its brick-and-mortar facilities and setting up shop wherever it’s needed, often in underserved rural communities in the Valley, said Dr. Keith Boell, Geisinger chief quality officer for population initiatives.

Geisinger’s general Mobile Clinic, for example, can do a variety of different things, including preventive health services such as screenings for patients’ lab work, and blood draws, among others, Boell said.

And mobile medical units are “at least as successful at treating patients as traditional meetings in hospitals,” Boell said. It is outfitted inside like a typical clinic you’d find in a hospital.

Geisinger currently has four mobile units: Mobile Mammography which provides screening mammograms; Mobile Dentistry which providers preventive dental screenings; and a unit that provides osteoporosis screenings.

Meanwhile, Evangelical hospital has one mobile medical bus, which offers some basic clinical services such as drawing blood and taking blood pressure.

It is especially necessary “in western Snyder County, where the bus has also served Amish and Mennonite communities,” said Don Remmey Jr., whose firm, Remmey, The Pallet Company, in Beaver Springs, was one of the supporters that made the purchase of the mobile medical uni possible. The Evangelical bus became operational about five years ago in 2018.

“Our mobile medical unit is a licensed mobile clinic by the Department of Health,” said Ryan McNally, Evangelical’s director of community health initiatives.

“Our focus is to do primary care, screenings and preventative type services,” McNally said. “We can do lab work. Every three years, as a hospital, we are required to do a community health needs assessment to evaluate what the needs are in the community. The needs assessment, through the past couple of cycles, has indicated that one of the greatest needs is preventive type health care services.

“So one of the best ways to make use of this unit is to utilize it for preventive-type services.”

Evangelical looks at its service area as one that spans more than 35 ZIP codes, McNally said, a multiple-county region.

“We are able to deploy the unit throughout that entire service area,” McNally said.

Evangelical’s Mobile Medical unit does “try to get out and provide screenings once per quarter in four different locations in four different counties,” Zechman said.


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