Mobile clinic steers community to better health

Stormont Vail's Mobile Clinic continually evaluates changes to best serve the community.
Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 10:41 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A health clinic on wheels recently marked its first year on the Topeka streets.

Stormont Vail’s Mobile Clinic is mapping out the best ways to serve the community.

Patient care tech Juli Casas has been on the road with the clinic since the beginning, and says she loves the community outreach to underserved areas.

“I like learning people’s stories,” she said. “We do have a couple regulars we constantly see and you get kind of worried when you don’t see them for a while.”

The mobile clinic aims to steer people toward better health by bringing care right to their neighborhood. Karina Ramirez, APRN says they provide a variety of services.

“We can do annual screenings, management of chronic conditions,” she said. “We offer walk-ins (or) you can call in for an appointment. (We do) blood pressure checks, blood sugar checks, we also have the capability of drawing lab work as well; and we just recently got an EKG machine.”

The goal is to target underserved communities. Since hitting the road Valentine’s Day 2022, they’ve partnered with the Mobile Access Partnership, caring for people who are homeless; and they changed up their route to better meet needs. They recently added a stop at the Paris Community Center in the Montara neighborhood, with a Boys and Girls Club location and Pauline Central School at their doorstep - or bumper, in this case.

Karla Hedquist, Stormont Vail’s community engagement director, said the area also does not have any nearby health care facilities and lacks easy access to public transportation.

“We know that it’s a community that doesn’t have a lot of resources available here close, and so to bring primary care to them and to be here for them we think is going to be a good fit,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to not have to build brick and morter but to roll in on a consistent basis and be able to provide care.”

The proximity to children and families could also add convenience for parents.

“This would be great for those parents who maybe they’re bringing their child and they want to stop in real quick for any type of complaint that they have, or even bring their kids in - we can do children as well for physicals, update on vaccine,” Ramirez said.

Another bonus: both Ramirez and Casas are bilingual.

“I feel like, especially some Hispanics who are primarily Spanish-speaking, they shy away from going to health care because they’re not sure if there is going to somebody there that will understand them,” Casas said. “I want to be here so that they have someone.”

The mobile clinic accepts most insurance. If you’re uninsured, staff will provide care and assist with paperwork to apply for coverage programs.

They take walk-ins as they can, but prefer appointments. You can make an appointment by calling 785-270-4440. Current schedules are updated on the Stormont Vail web site.

Clinic hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Upcoming stops include:

April 24: Oakland Community Center, 801 NE Poplar

April 25 & 27: Southern Hills Mennonite Church, 511 SE 37th St.

April 26: Central Park Community Center, 1534 SW Clay St.

April 28: Velma Paris Community Center, 6715 SW Westview Rd.