A popular trend in medicine as of late has been the emergence of mobile health clinics. Many areas around the United States and the rest of the world have a population of patients that don’t have regular access to healthcare, so physicians have begun to bring clinics to the patients. Sometimes patients not accessing healthcare is just a matter of them not wanting to follow traditional medical advice, but more often than not it’s just a matter of the population not having the social supports for the care they need. There are many circumstances that can come into play for these populations, such as not having health insurance, having low-income, or experiencing homelessness. Mobile health clinics originally emerged decades ago for similar reasons that they exist today and many physicians feel that by putting clinics inside of a van and bringing care directly to the patients, they’ll be able to establish a sense of trust with the patients and the community and ultimately revolutionize the way some populations approach their health.
An important aspect of making mobile health clinics work is having a grasp of the community around you and knowing how to approach it. Clinics such as La Clinica in Oregon know that for their community, they put a lot of focus into the homeless population, the migrant seasonal workers in their area, and individuals who live in subsidized housing. Each of these populations has its own problems when it comes to healthcare, but La Clinica worked to figure out the needs of each population and ultimately make healthcare more accessible to each of them.
While mobile health clinics have made plenty of progress over the years, they can’t usually get to the community entirely on they’re own. Going to random sites and doing some marketing can help, but it’s not typically possible to build awareness on a greater scale without getting involved in some sort of community partnership. For La Clinica, they went through several faith-based organizations. They would organize events together, so when food shelters opened up, La Clinica might also set up a mobile health clinic. It’s often about more than just finding a place to set up a clinic, but instead about fostering a healthy relationship with community leaders that can help clinics get the word out.
As more mobile health clinics breakthrough to vulnerable communities, many healthcare leaders are starting to see that patients aren’t necessarily looking at these clinics as just a one time place to receive medical care. While this approach to health care isn’t a perfect one, mobile health clinics have become a trusted part of community-based care.