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Mobile clinic steers health care directly to neighborhoods

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 10:33 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Stormont Vail’s new primary clinic has no permanent address. Instead, it’s on wheels.

Stormont’s new mobile clinic is an RV tricked out with all the items you’d expect in a regular primary care clinic. Deb Yocum, Stormont’s vice president for clinic operations, says the mobile approach offers advantages to brick-and-mortar operations.

“It takes a lot of staff, a lot of equipment to build a clinic in every little corner,” Yocum said. “This way, we can travel to those areas on a once a week, once every other week basis.”

Stormont’s mobile clinic will target areas of Topeka where they’ve identified people aren’t seeking primary and preventative care. Initially, they’re planning stops in East Topeka, North Topeka and the Oakland neighborhood. They also plan to partner with the Topeka Rescue Mission and Valeo Behavioral Health’s Mobile Access Partnership, or MAP, program.

Karla Hedquist, Stormont’s director of community health engagement, said they’ve planning the mobile unit’s launch for more than two years.

“We know not that everyone has access to primary care and that’s for a variety of reasons. It could be transportation. It could be work hours versus an ability to get to an appointment,” she said.

An advanced practitioner, RN, and registration person will staff the unit. Staff who will be involved in the program have spent this month training, and getting to know all the systems, including leveling mechanisms, exterior awnings, and the wheelchair lift that makes the mobile clinic fully accessible to those with mobility challenges.

Keishly Franco, RN, said it is exciting to be part of the team launching the program.

“It’s different as in I’ve never done anything medical on a bus or a mobile clinic, but the same as in we have two exam rooms, we’ll have all the supplies we need, everything will be super clean and sanitized,” she said.

The clinic will be equipped to do well-visit exams and physicals, give vaccines, and monitor chronic diseases, like diabetes.

“Preventative health is so important,” Hedquist said. “We don’t want people to wait until something hurts so much that they end up in emergency department for things that could have been prevented if they had had that care.”

Stormont hopes bringing that care to people’s doorsteps puts the brakes on barriers.

“Our entire staff is bilingual, so I think that will have a big impact,” Yocum said. “We’re also going to them - to their neighborhood trusted places.”

All that’s left now is to get rolling.

“I’m just really excited to put it to work and get out to helping people,” Franco said.

Stormont’s mobile clinic hits the road February 14. The schedule of dates, times and locations is being finalized, and will be posted on Stormont’s web site.

The clinic will be by appointment. However, they will take walk-ins as time allows, with the expectation of being able to serve 10 to 15 patients a day. It will accept insurance, or assist people with filing for assistance.

The Stormont Vail Foundation paid the nearly $320,000 cost for the unit.

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