Care-A-Van set to debut in Northeast Arkansas

by George Jared ([email protected]) 634 views 

The Delta Care-A-Van is about to debut in Northeast Arkansas. The 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.

The unit will be introduced Sept. 4. An unveiling ceremony will begin at 10 a.m at the Fowler Center on the ASU campus, NYITCOM at A-state associate director of external relations and marketing Casey Pearce said.

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 previously told Talk Business & Politics.

The mobile clinic is expected to visit cities such as Harrisburg, Leachville, Lepanto, Manila, Piggott, Walnut Ridge, and Marked Tree, with plans to expand services to other areas of the Delta region.

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, an intake area, and a space for telemedicine.

“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 40-foot long 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.