Mobile Health Clinic Delivers Care to an Underserved Population
Ohio Northern University found an innovative way to reach patients in a rural area of Hardin County.
Conference attendees at the PharmTalk: Innovative Pharmacy Services for Special Populations presentation on Saturday, March 23, at the American Pharmacists Association’s Annual Meeting & Exposition (APhA 2019) in Seattle, Washington, learned how 1 university found an innovative way to deliver care to an underserved population.
In a segment of the presentation “ONU HealthWise Rural Mobile Health Clinic,” Amy Fanous, PharmD, BCACP, director of the Ohio Northern University HealthWise Mobile Clinic, and an assistant clinical professor at the university’s Raabe College of Pharmacy in Ada, discussed how the clinic helped the local community in Hardin County.
“What I’ve learned from this project is the common thoughts, goals and ideas that make a community, not just the physical space you share,” she said.
The 38-foot mobile clinic, which was launched in 2015, serves patients who face significant poverty, face multiple gaps in coverage, are low-income, lack health care knowledge, and do not have access to transportation, Fanous said.
The community is defined as a health care professional shortage area by the Health Resources & Service Administration.
“We want to show that we share common interests and goals with patients who live in Hardin County. We have providers. We have the manpower to make a difference in our community,” Fanous said.
At first, it was an uphill climb. The mobile clinic would show up at places like food pantries and even county fairs, and no one would show up.
“But, just because you build it doesn’t mean patients are going to come. The only way to truly reach the patients is to show you’re part of the community and share patient goals,” Fanous said.
The goals for the mobile clinic were to improve health care, health knowledge, and health outcomes, which has happened, she said.
“We kept showing up month after month. If no one wanted our help, we’d serve meals or sit down and talk with people. We were building this positive rapport and trust,” Fanous said.
The mobile health clinic has been a win-win for the community and the students at the university, as it helps them gain experience, she said.
“The key to success is taking the time and building the foundation,” Fanous said. “Truly learning how to serve our community has made me a better health care professional in our rural and underserved community.”
Services offered at the mobile health clinic include help with smoking cessation, testing of A1C levels, immunizations, and blood pressure readings.
Fanous, A. ONU HealthWise Rural Mobile Health Clinic. Presented at: APHA2019. Seattle, Washington; March 23, 2019.