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Mobile Clinic Finds Success in Helping At-Risk and Homeless Youth

by Astrid Fiano , DOTmed News Writer

Dr. Christensen also works for the local Phoenix Children's Hospital (who have been very excited over the program's results) and says that institution and many other hospitals in the community are supportive of the program because they see the success and fewer kids utilizing the emergency rooms; the doctors want the best for the patients and know the program is giving the kids the care they need.

The Crews'n Healthmobile treated 4,547 new patients and provided 13,165 health encounters between 2001 and 2008. The study shows that with this program, emergency room visits among those participants who accessed clinic services three or more times fell by 27 percent, from 1.5 visits to 1.1 visits over a 6-month period. In addition, 72 percent of program participants attended follow-up care appointments arranged by the clinic in 2007, up from 51 percent in 2006. Emergency room physicians also report high levels of satisfaction with the program in its ability to reduce ED visits.
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Dr. Christensen describes how the program can work as holistically as an enhanced medical home through a hypothetical before/after example: A young man with painful feet impeding his ability to walk goes to the ER. The physician gives him prescriptions for antibiotics and other antifungal medication. Now that youth has a $500 bill from the emergency room and is worse off because he still has pain in his feet, owes the bill and can't afford the prescription. He also hasn't been able to address the circumstances that led to his medical condition. Now that young man hears about Dr. Christensen and the Crews'n Health Mobile and visits the clinic. The clinic sees the young man and actually gives him the antibiotics and antifungal medicine. The staff sees the reason he has this fungal infection is that is that he has been walking around in the Arizona monsoons in a pair of old combat boots with the same socks for the past month. Through the program, he gets new socks and shoes from the donation room. In this process, the staff also notices that his glasses are broken and him up with the Lion's Club to get him new glasses. He's also missing teeth so the staff puts him in one of their dental clinics the next. He is screened for mental health issues and is found to be suffering from depression from a long history of abuse. So he's then scheduled the clinic's nurse practitioner, trained in psychiatry, and can be started on medications. This young person hasn't finished school so the staff talks to him about getting in the GED program and to sign up with some of the adolescent shelters that are associated with the clinic.
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