A primary goal of the U.S. health system is to provide affordable, value based, accessible care. Healthcare services are largely provided by hospitals and clinics, yet, among all of the methods for healthcare delivery mobile health clinics are the most effective in providing care to underserved children, offering a unique solution to expanding health equity and improving quality of care. There is a growing emphasis by the healthcare community to provide more stable medical services to children, particularly post pandemic.
“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.”
Over forty years ago, Sister Bernadette Kenny of the Catholic Order Medical Missionaries would drive her Volkswagen Beetle through the rural mountain roads of Appalachia to deliver health care to remote and disenfranchised people. Sister Kenny’s efforts eventually became a $3.6 million organization known as Central Appalachia’s Saint Mary’s Health Wagon, providing a number of healthcare services, including mobile behavioral health clinics.
Traditionally we think of Mobile Health Clinics (MHCs) being utilized to provide healthcare services to underserved populations. We know that MHCs improve outcomes and reduce costs related to healthcare delivery and provide access to care by delivering services to populations that are historically underserved. Yet how often do we consider the impact MHCs can have on emergency preparedness and disaster relief in times of crisis? Working to help form the United Nations after WWII Winston Churchill famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. This was not a cynical comment. He was making the clear point that in the wake of World War II allied countries should come together to form an alliance to stave off the potential of future disasters. To be prepared.
Regardless of the pandemic there has always been an urgent need for adaptable healthcare interventions for the underserved. Interventions that improve health outcomes and address the inequality for those on the fringes of society. The topic of health equity always comes around to: “Meet people where they are”. This refers to bringing accessible healthcare to people where they live and work, and most particularly to the urban and rural poor. However, regardless of this general consensus, much of the medical community has yet to embrace the most useful instrumentality of meeting people where they are with Mobile Medical Clinics.