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Thursday, Aug 4, 2022

Ballad Health announces launch of mobile health clinic to serve rural communities

Ballad Health mobile health clinic vanA new mobile health clinic will soon expand access to primary and preventive healthcare services for rural communities in the Appalachian Highlands.

Beginning in September, Ballad Health’s new Community Mobile Health Clinic, funded by Ballad Health Foundation through a partnership with healthcare consulting firm PYA, will bolster rural healthcare access and services by eliminating barriers to high-quality services and care. The unit will provide general medical care and women’s health services. Patients will be seen regardless of insurance status.

“We’re bringing health improvement beyond our hospital and clinic walls, straight into our communities – even in the most rural and remote areas,” said Dr. Paula Masters, vice president of population health at Ballad Health. “This clinic will provide more patients access to the same high-quality healthcare provided in our brick-and-mortar locations.”

Healthcare consulting firm PYA funded the purchase of the mobile unit through a donation to Ballad Health Foundation, recognition of a 25-year relationship of mutually supporting healthcare in the Appalachian Highlands.

“Ballad Health and PYA share a set of core values and a commitment to improving peoples’ lives – particularly those in rural communities,” said David McMillan, chief financial officer and managing principal of consulting at PYA. “Service remains foundational to what we do, and we’re proud to play a role in bringing the Community Mobile Health Clinic to life.”

The Community Mobile Health Clinic will travel throughout the region and offer a variety of health services, regardless of patients’ insurance status. Patients will have access to:

  • Select point-of-care testing
  • Acute and chronic disease management
  • Cancer and biometric screenings
  • Vision and hearing screenings
  • Health education resources
  • Referrals to primary and specialty care

The mobile health clinic will also provide an emphasis on women’s healthcare, such as:

  • Annual care services
  • Acute women’s health services
  • Family planning services
  • Sexually transmitted infection education and treatment
  • Timely referral and navigation to obstetric providers
  • Referrals for obstetric and gynecological specialty services such as ultrasound or surgical interventions

“This mobile unit will provide a range of healthcare services close to home, with clinical staff onsite to navigate patients to additional care if needed,” said Shari Rajoo, MD, medical director of the mobile clinic and Ballad Health’s chief medical officer population health. “Meeting people where they are, becoming part of their continuum of care – especially in our rural communities – is a key priority for Ballad Health. We are honored to be able to complement the services of our community providers in providing high-quality care to the communities we serve.”

The mobile unit will be staffed by a nurse practitioner and a community health navigator, who will help patients address barriers ranging from transportation to specialty care referrals.

“The screenings patients can receive through the unit will save lives with prevention, early diagnosis and proactive care, and the effects of some of these services can have far-reaching and long-lasting effects not only for our patients, but their families as well,” Dr. Rajoo said. “We’re bringing more high-quality care options, close to home, for people in our communities who need them. I believe healthcare in our communities is the way of the future – we are proud to be part of that.”

Services offered are made possible by several community grants. Ballad Health secured funds from the Tennessee Department of Health for the Tennessee Breast and Cervical Program, which increases access and reduces disparities to timely screenings and follow-ups for breast or cervical cancer by providing patient navigation and helping women overcome barriers and understand the medical system.

The community health navigator will engage with and screen patients for the program and facilitate additional needs, such as transportation, access to care for follow-up appointments and medication assistance, as well as other social needs as determined by the patient’s needs.

A second grant from James Madison University focuses on providing teenagers and their caregivers with health education, resources and services, which aligns with multiple population health improvement efforts already underway.

A third grant from the East Tennessee Foundation will directly serve the residents of Greene County, Tennessee. It will support the mobile unit’s goal to increase access to women’s healthcare services for the uninsured and Medicaid-insured populations, such as free screenings, education, coaching and health navigation services.

“Every gift made through Ballad Health Foundation — from multi-decade partnerships such as ours with PYA, to community members giving what they can, where they can — makes it possible for our health system to live out its mission,” said Jack Simpson, president of Ballad Health Foundation. “We’re all-in on transforming the health of our region, and this support shows us we’re not in this effort alone.”

The Community Mobile Health Clinic is Ballad Health’s latest step toward advancing rural healthcare. 

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