County Durham Health Department is taking a patient-centric approach by equipping a new mobile medical unit to reach residents in their neighborhoods.
Earlier this month, the Durham County Commission approved the use of approximately $341,864 in grants to purchase and equip a mobile medical unit.
In about a year, the medical unit is ready to move into the community and neighborhoods, providing vaccines and immunizations to those in need.
“We are blessed with a very good health department, but we know the services are not able to reach every nook and cranny of County Durham,” said the director of public health for the County Durham, Rod Jenkins.
The unit is designed to remove barriers to equity in health care, including transportation.
Duke School of Medicine Vice Chief of the Division of Community Health Fred Johnson leads a seven-county government collaboration addressing the social determinants of health.
“Transportation is one of the major social drivers that drives inequality, if it’s a barrier for individuals,” Johnson said.
Jenkins listed three factors when discussing health equity: transportation, education, and provision of medical care.
Johnson said pediatric vaccination rates have dropped since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020.
“It will be another tool in the preventive care arsenal to reach communities that have historically been marginalized and made up of working parents, who work in two shifts,” Johnson said.
In 2021, mobile units in Durham worked to address inequitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine. A revamped bus turned into a vaccination clinic that travels the state.
Campbell University has also used mobile units to bring education and health care to rural communities.
Jenkins discussed the various functions of the county’s new Mobile Medical Unit.
“It will have tons of technology, including computing capabilities,” Jenkins said of the mobile medical unit. “It will also have printing capabilities.
“It will be able to interface with our electronic health record system. It will literally be like a clinic that can be accessed in the community. »
Jenkins said the mobile medical unit will also have an exam room and could perform “laboratory activities.”
“You think about it, [the] the sky is the limit,” Jenkins said. “Think of the ways this technology, this mobile unit, can help families, especially working families, who, let’s face it, time is money.
“They don’t have time. [to] must cross transport barriers that do not allow them to respect this vaccination schedule for their child. »