by Jamie Anfeson-Comeau
Healthcare may soon be closer than the hospital for underserved populations in Prince George’s County, following the unveiling of a new mobile health clinic.
“I am so excited about this van, because now we can make sure that anyone, anyone will be able to get the health care they desperately need,” said Maria Gomez, executive director of Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care, an Adelphi nonprofit that provides health care, education and social services to underserved communities.
The clinic will be able to provide blood pressure and diabetes screenings, as well as mammograms and colonoscopies, said Robyn Webb-Williams, vice president of the Doctor’s Community Hospital Foundation.
“We’re trying to take health care out of the hospitals and into people’s homes,” Webb-Williams said.
Paul Grenaldo, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Doctors Community Hospital, said medical professionals will be able to see to eight to 10 patients a day in the van.
“You will be getting the same kind of treatment you would be getting as though you were visiting a doctor’s office,” Grenaldo said.
Grenaldo said the mobile clinic will visit remote areas of the county and neighborhoods where studies have determined the highest concentration of emergency room users for chronic conditions reside, such as the Capitol Heights area.
“Working with the Health Department, the question has been, what can we do to provide health care to more people?” Grenaldo said. “It’s important to bring health care to more people in their homes and in their communities.”
The mobile clinic will operate three days a week, Grenaldo said.
Grenaldo said the days and locations will be made available on the Doctors Community Health website and on the county health department’s website when operations begin next month.
The “Wellness on Wheels” mobile health clinic is a collaboration between the county Department of Public Health and Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham, which will staff and operate the clinic.
The clinic will be funded for its first year of operations through a $100,000 grant from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation.
“The county had the van, the hospital will run all of the operations and services, they just needed the funding to outfit and run the van,” said Nina Albert, Walmart director of community affairs.
The funding from Walmart has allowed the bus to be outfitted with diagnostic equipment and an examination room.
Grenaldo said the van will be able to accommodate two patients at a time, one in the exam room and one in the health workup area.
Pamela Creekmur, health officer with the county Health Department, said the mobile clinic will be able to connect patients with both health care and other support services for treatment of chronic conditions.
Creekmur said the county’s public health department has had the mobile clinic bus for years and used it to do some screenings, but the county did not had the funds to fully utilize it as a mobile health clinic.
“We always wanted to use it to serve people out in the community. We didn’t just want to do screenings without connecting people to another provider,” Creekmur said. “So we’re really excited about this partnership with Doctors Community Hospital.”