BWWMH adding mobile clinic

BWWMH will have unveil it new mobile health clinic during an open house Friday, a vehicle that is the focal point of its Healthcare on Wheels initiative.

Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital will be showing off its latest asset during an open house event Friday from 1-3 p.m. On display during the event will be the hospital’s newly-acquired mobile health clinic, a vehicle that will allow the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority to further address unmet healthcare needs in its coverage area.

“The purpose of the project is to address longstanding and unmet health needs of the counties identified through the implementation of the newly developed Mobile Health Van Program,” Loretta Wilson of GROWestAL said of the project that has been title Healthcare on Wheels. “Some the services offered aboard the Mobile Health Van will include; Health Assessment, which will involve completing an assessment of health history, practices, and healthcare needs; Health Screenings, to include blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar screenings for preventive health measures; telehealth which will involve linking care providers for direct patient consultation; and linking patients with insurance enrollment, medication assistance, transportation, primary care medical home and referrals to other community resources.”

Healthcare on Wheels began to take shape in 2011 as a means of providing healthcare services to underserved consumers residing in areas such as Choctaw County, Marengo County, Greene County, Hale County, Sumter County and Wilcox County.

“It is the project’s intent to transmit medical images and data in real time (while the patient is aboard the van) and to simultaneously link care providers for direct consultation regardless of geography. However, we are finding this concept challenging in that most rural areas do not have hospitals, schools, or other large facilities with satellite connectivity,” Wilson said of the primary obstacle still facing the project. “Since wireless local area networks (WiFi) and routers pick up from cell towers and such towers in the rural areas to be served are few and far between, it will require more research and countless hours to find locations that will support the telehealth component of the project.  Program staff are currently working with the Tombigbee Health Care Authority’s (THA’s) Information Technology Department, and local universities and school systems to secure the necessary connectivity to fully implement all required components of the project.”

Healthcare on Wheels came together as an answer to a problem Wilson and her staff continually encountered in their experiences with GROWestAL, the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority’s Grants, Research and Outreach of West Alabama Division.

“As a result of these services, we were able to identify the needs to enhance access to care by taking services to residents ‘right in their front door.’  It has been proven that people are more likely to access health care when it is readily available to them,” Wilson said. “As a result, the GROWestAL staff worked untiringly researching and locating grant programs that would blend with the identified need. “

The handicap accessible mobile unit will be equipped with two medical care rooms and will offer services provided by a nurse, a doctor and medical students.