Kaiser Permanente recently activated its third mobile health vehicle in Northern California for members in the Solano County community of Rio Vista, home to a growing elderly population.
“I think it’s a great idea, particularly for my wife who doesn’t like to drive on the freeway,” said Ron Hill, who lives in a nearby retirement community and who saw a physician in the mobile health vehicle on its first day of operation. “This is really convenient. It’s 5 minutes from my house. You don’t have to spend half the day going back and forth.”
Appointments for basic primary care services are available in the vehicle 2 times a week and will eliminate a long drive to the nearest Kaiser Permanente medical offices in Antioch, Vacaville, or Fairfield, all of which are at least 20 miles away.
The new 40-foot-long medical office on wheels has 2 patient exam rooms, member electronic health record access, a waiting area, and restroom. It will be staffed by 1 physician and 2 licensed vocational nurses Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 650 St. Francis Way.
Members can see a doctor, as well as get immunizations, blood sugar and blood pressure checks, and prescriptions for mail order or pharmacy pickup.
“Right now we’re focusing on appointments for people who have not seen their doctor in a while, either because of COVID-19 or because they are far away from their doctors,” said Francisco Dorado, MD, the managing physician at the Rio Vista site. “There’s a large senior community here, so transportation tends to be a bit more complicated as a result. And the majority of people who live here are Kaiser Permanente members.”
Dr. Dorado said the vehicle can accommodate 13 to 15 patients for care twice a week.
3 vehicles with lots of possibilities
Since 2010, Kaiser Permanente has operated a mobile health clinic that visits large employer campuses in the south Bay Area, and it more recently deployed a new vehicle at the South Sacramento Medical Center campus.
That vehicle was used in the last year to provide well baby checks and immunizations. Soon it will shift to member outreach and care at pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinics in the Sacramento Valley. Later it will be deployed more permanently at the Kaiser Permanente Elk Grove Promenade Medical Offices and make trips to the community of Ione in Amador County to serve members who live far from the nearest medical offices.
Philip Chuang, senior vice president of Clinical Services for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, said all 3 vehicles can be used in a variety of scenarios, including communal living settings such as senior care facilities. They also can be used during disasters, such as wildfires, when medical facilities are closed, or the electricity is out.
“This kind of use is an opportunity to catch up members with their care,” said Chuang. “It could be a case of a doctor saying to a patient, ‘You were due for a lab test 6 months ago, can we take care of that right now?’”
In Rio Vista on its first day in operation, a constant stream of Kaiser Permanente members stopped to ask about appointments.
“I saw it when I was driving by,” said Sandy Price, who also lives in a nearby retirement community. “My first impression is it’s wonderful. A lot of people around here don’t have transportation, so this might be the answer.”