New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University (NYITCOM at A-State) received a $828,748 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a mobile medical clinic that will be used to deliver health care to undeserved and rural communities in Arkansas and the Delta region.
Health care outcomes in the Arkansas Delta are among the worst in the nation, creating a high demand for clinically trained rural physicians and health professionals, NYITCOM at A-State dean Dr. Shane Speights told Talk Business & Politics.
In an effort to enhance health care, NYITCOM at A-State, in collaboration with the ASU College of Nursing and Health Professions, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Northeast Family Medicine Residency Program, and St. Bernards Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency Program, will develop a mobile medical clinic, known as the “Delta Care-a-van.” The van is being built in Texas and should be ready this fall, Speights said.
“This will help to bring resources to communities that need it most,” he said.
The mobile clinic is expected to begin visiting the cities of Harrisburg, Leachville, Lepanto, Manila, Piggott, Walnut Ridge, and Marked Tree, with plans to expand services to other areas of the Delta region. The Delta Care-a-van will see patients in the seven communities, conducting an expected 78 mobile clinic encounters over the course of approximately 18 months, and will offer evening hour services.
From these visits, NYITCOM at A-State will collect data regarding diabetes, obesity, immunization and vaccination, prenatal care, mental health, and other health topics to measure performance levels and determine strategies for improving patient outcomes.
“We plan for all our students to get exposure through this at some level,” he said.
The mobile clinic will deliver preventative care services and health education without cost or need for an appointment. The project will cost more than $1 million and the DO school will provide $228,604 of in kind, services and equipment, Speights said. The services will come in the form of salaries for employees involved in the project, he added.
The van will provide care to patients who might otherwise be unable to see a physician. Patients visiting the mobile clinic will receive health education and screenings for untreated chronic conditions including obesity, diabetes, and anxiety/depression, as well as referrals to regional physicians for follow-up care. It will have two exam rooms, and intake area, and a space for tele medicine.
“This service will provide valuable clinical training to an ‘army’ of future physicians and health care professionals, and will also expose them to the joys, opportunities, and challenges of rural practice,” Speights said.
The mobile clinic will offer a training program for medical students from NYITCOM at A-State, resident physicians from UAMS and St. Bernards Medical Center, and ASU nursing and social work students. Under the guidance of NYITCOM at A-State faculty and trained medical experts, these students will conduct screenings and wellness examinations to monitor blood pressure, blood glucose, and signs of mental health conditions. Patients requiring additional treatment will be connected to local providers or receive tele medicine consultation while on board the mobile clinic.
“Our college is excited to be involved in this interprofessional education and service delivery project that will impact many of the smaller towns in our region. The health of our communities is so important to our economic future,” said Dr. Susan Hanrahan, dean, ASU College of Nursing and Health Professions. “I think we can make a difference.”
Speights doesn’t think there is a similar program in Arkansas. He said he’s aware of a similar program in Ohio.