New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University (NYITCOM at A-State) has partnered with several organizations to host clinic screenings throughout the Delta Region this summer. The school received an $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 underserved.
Healthcare 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 previously told Talk Business & Politics.
In an effort to enhance healthcare, 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 slated to be completed later this summer according to Brookshield Laurent, vice chair for the department of clinical studies. Six clinics have already been held across the region. Five more are scheduled, but that number could grow, she added.
“It’s a fluid number. We could have 30 or more a year,” she said.
The cities of Harrisburg, Leachville, Lepanto, Manila, Piggott, Walnut Ridge and Marked Tree will see the van, with plans to expand services to other areas of the Delta region. About 20 to 25 people visit the clinics, she said. Another collaborator, the NEA Food Bank, provides food for those who come to the clinics, she added.
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.
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, an intake area and space for telemedicine.
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 telemedicine consultation while on board the mobile clinic.
There are a number of logistical challenges associated with organizing these clinics, Laurent said. NYIT officials meet with local community leaders to organize the events. County demographic data is analyzed to determine where the needs are greatest, she added.
“Health literacy is an issue … People are looking to be better informed about their health and health-related issues,” she said.