Mobile Health Clinics Focus On Uninsured

Kaiser Permanente Northwest and Medical Teams International are rolling out an innovative new initiative – Kaiser Permanente Care & Connect – that will provide mobile health care services to marginalized populations throughout the Pacific Northwest. 

Kaiser Permanente Care & Connect will initially offer 51 mobile clinics across Oregon and Southwest Washington, providing individuals and families with dental care, preventive screenings and connections to ongoing services at no cost. The program aims to increase access and delivery of these services to people in underrepresented communities that often face barriers and are most affected by health disparities. 

At these mobile clinics, patients can receive emergency dental services, including restorations and extractions, fluoride and sealants, and referrals for low-cost specialty services. Medical care offered includes hypertension, diabetes and mental health screenings, COVID-19 vaccinations and referrals to primary care. The clinics will also offer assistance in scheduling appointments and help uninsured individuals and families with Medicaid eligibility screenings and enrollment.  

“The pandemic has affected everyone, but communities of color and the uninsured have been hit particularly hard. Kaiser Permanente believes everyone deserves access to compassionate quality care,” said Jeff Collins, regional president of Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest. “Our partnership with Medical Teams International and local community-based organizations hosting these clinics will allow us to visit communities with the greatest need, helping to break down barriers by meeting patients where they are and providing the individual care they need.”

“We are thrilled to continue our mobile health partnership with Kaiser Permanente,” said Cindy Breilh, Medical Teams executive director of U.S. Programs. “We believe that taking healthcare directly to people in most need will lower a number of critical barriers they experience in trying to access care.“

Kaiser Permanente Care & Connect builds upon the success of Kaiser Permanente’s and Medical Teams’ most recent initiative, mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics. These mobile clinics focused on providing access to vaccinations to those most affected by health disparities and rural communities. In 2021 alone, 12,153 vaccines were administered through 398 community-based clinics across Kaiser Permanente’s service region.

In addition to dental and medical care services, Kaiser Permanente Care & Connect will help address a person’s psychosocial health including food security and housing needs, through partnerships with community-based organizations utilizing Connect Oregon and/or Unite Washington. Kaiser Permanente is planning to grant 14 community-based and culturally specific organizations with $20,000 each to help host the clinics and support referral work in their local community. 

Currently, there are 51 mobile clinics planned over the next six months with stops in Clackamas, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington, and Lane Counties in Oregon. Washington counties include Cowlitz, Clark, and additional southwest Washington counties. Kaiser Permanente and Medical Teams expect additional clinics will be added as the program gets underway.

The efficacy of mobile clinics was recently highlighted by Harvard Medical School’s Mobile Health Map. Their report titled “The Case for Mobile Health” explores how mobile clinics have proven their ability to address some of the most intractable problems faced by disadvantaged communities in rural areas and urban neighborhoods. Mobile health programs have shown that they achieve good patient outcomes, boast impressive returns on investment, and reach underserved communities that may not be effectively reached by traditional healthcare delivery models. 

Source: Kaiser Permanente & Medical Teams International

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