Delivering Care Differently: Taking health care on the road
Montgomery County Memorial Hospital External Site in Red Oak, Iowa, had a problem. Even with a new outpatient clinic, and expanded emergency department, surgery and rehabilitation services, patients in surrounding rural areas couldn't get the care they needed.
Their solution? Take the care on the road, of course! The Heartland Mobile Health Unit provides primary care from a specially equipped medical vehicle with full clinic services, including exams, immunizations, lab services, screenings, plus much more.
So, what is it like to get care in a mobile unit? Find out from three Wellmark members who have come to rely on its convenient care.
"It feels like family"
Before the Heartland Mobile Care Unit, it was impossible to get care. I have a young son, and when he was sick, we’d wait at least a week or two for an appointment. It was not working for us. My son has chronic strep throat infections. He probably visits the doctor once or twice a month. I work full time and so does my husband. We can’t take off work every time he needs to be seen. Now, we get a same-day appointment. He doesn’t have to miss school, and we don’t have to miss work.
The mobile clinic is not just a doctor on wheels, it is a full-service unit. We go there for most of our health care needs. Plus, appointments at the mobile clinic are so easy to schedule. You can sometimes get in within the hour. What’s more, the same staff is on board every time. It feels like family. We have a child with Asperger’s, and it’s important to see the same people and have the same routine, every time. We get that here. They know what he likes and doesn’t like. We don’t get that anywhere else.
"It's close to home"
Time at home is very important to me. It is for a lot of people. There is so little of it. My wife and I work hard, so it’s great to get as much time at home as possible. The mobile clinic helps make that happen.
When the clinic wasn’t here, we’d have to find time during our busy work day to make a phone call, be on hold, and wait to see if we could get in. We’d use our lunch break just to find out if we could get an appointment. Seems like we were always juggling who was going to take time off, who was going to work. When you did get an appointment, you'd still have to take time off work, drive, and of course, wait. It was time consuming and frustrating, and you were around a lot of sick people. If the mobile clinic wasn’t available, I might decide to just stay sick rather than seek care.
If the mobile clinic wasn't available, I might decide to just stay sick rather than seek care.
Now that the mobile clinic is here, my whole family uses it. We can get in right away. It’s kind of like having a doctor make house calls. It’s close to everyone’s home. In fact, we can simply walk across the street to have an appointment. I can go after or before work. There is a lot less waiting. It’s quiet. It’s private. They have everything you need. It’s kind of like having a little convenience store for medical help right there in your hometown.
Overall, I think care at the mobile clinic has positively impacted my health. After surgery, I went there for my blood pressure readings. I may not have done that without the clinic. Now, we’ve known our doctor for years. For something important, she’s only a phone call away. It’s a good feeling.
"We've come to rely on it"
I own a clothing boutique in Red Oak, and at home, we have four children, ages 8 to 18. We are incredibly busy and we often feel as though there are not enough hours in a day.
Before the mobile clinic, if one of our kids were sick, we’d have to call before 8 in the morning for an appointment time. If we didn’t’ get in, that was just it—we didn’t get in. It was nerve-wracking. When your child is sick, you need same day care, or you may end up in the emergency room.
Now that we have the mobile clinic, we’ve come to rely on it. They can test and treat anything. I know the care we get in the mobile clinic is as good as the care we get from the hospital clinic. Plus, I have that peace of mind that comes with seeing a doctor. For example, we leave knowing if our child needs medicine. On one occasion, they even asked the pharmacy to stay open late so we could get our prescription.
There is a misconception that the mobile clinic is not a real doctor’s office. But, it’s really no different, except for that it’s on wheels and it’s far more convenient to be seen here. It’s really like an extension of the hospital. It’s well-maintained, clean and personal. It is a full-service office on wheels. Having it here helps our family get back in the swing of things quickly.
Make the most of your health care
While not every community has a mobile unit, there is one thing everyone can do to make the most of their health care and health insurance benefits. Choose and use your personal doctor.
Your personal doctor is the medical professional you go to with your health concerns and medical history. To find a personal doctor, log in to myWellmark®. You’ll find a list of network providers with locations closest to you. You can also view or post reviews of providers based on your experiences, and check quality scores to find a doctor that’s right for you.
Want to learn more about value-based care? Check out the other articles in this series:
Member testimonial photos courtesy of Finch and Lilac Photography