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Mobile primary care clinic deployed in Texas communities

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | July 27, 2016
Population Health Primary Care
$2.88 million grant goes toward
45 foot facility on wheels
Thanks to a $2.88 million grant from United Health Foundation, the days of driving long distances to the primary care physician for a doctor's appointment may be over for 4,500 residents of Texas' Rio Grande Valley.

The grant, given to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), will go toward the deployment of a 45-foot-long mobile primary care clinic.

"Through the 'Helping Build Healthier Communities' program, United Health Foundation is developing and supporting innovative and evidence-based ideas that help the health system work better through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts," Don Langer, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas, told HCB News.

The medical professionals on board the clinic on wheels — called Unimóvil — can diagnose and treat common dental and mental health conditions and provide screening for HIV, women’s health and domestic violence. They will also evaluate patients’ BMI and test their vision, hearing, lipid profile, and liver function.

Some of the things the medical professionals are capable of doing are assess workplace injuries, treat sore throats, and perform annual exams. The unit’s equipped with a patient room, waiting room and lab station, but laboratory services such as blood draws are sent to a nearby clinic lab.
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A report from the United Health Foundation found that Hispanic adults are not receiving as many preventive health services such as immunizations, cholesterol checks and colorectal cancer screenings as non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black adults. They are also less likely to visit a primary care physician.

That may be due to lack of transportation, child care, work obligation, financial constraints and a lack of knowledge of available services and care providers. Unimóvil will work to overcome those barriers by bringing the services closer to where the residents live and work.

A dedication ceremony was held on Friday to introduce the Unimóvil. Dr. Francisco Fernandez, professor of psychiatry, neurology and neuroscience, UTRGV School of Medicine; Senator Eddie Lucio Jr.; UTRGV Provost and Executive Vice President Dr. Havidán Rodriguez; and UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas CEO Don Langer were in attendance.

This isn’t the first time that a mobile primary care clinic has been deployed in the United States. Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin unveiled one in May 2013 that has a nurse practitioner on board, and also provides digital mammography screening.

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