Students in rural Fresno County are seeing improved access to critical health care services — vaccinations, preventive screenings, and wellness exams — thanks to a new mobile health vehicle funded by a $464,000 Kaiser Permanente grant.
Operated by the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools (FCSS) Health Services Department, the mobile unit is the second providing services to hard-to-reach communities in Fresno County and expands the capacity of school-based clinics so students and their families will have greater access to care. The mobile health program aims to reach at least 17 schools and more than 1,000 students and family members over the next year.
“The nice part about this is that it’s on wheels so we can take it anywhere we need to go,” said Alma McKenry, senior director for FCSS Health Services. “We’ve been concentrating on the west side in places like Firebaugh and Mendota, and those communities that have trouble with access. This new mobile health unit will help us to expand further into Fresno County — Fowler, Selma, Sanger — and all those school districts that need us.”
Fresno County spans more than 6,000 square miles across a diverse landscape of metropolitan cities, rural communities, and the most agriculturally rich farmlands in the country.
The expansive geography puts some Fresno County residents more than an hour drive from the nearest health care facility. The FCSS mobile health unit program helps to remove numerous barriers that may prevent families from getting the care that they need.
Whether it’s having to take extended time off work, high gas prices, daycare, a lack of transportation, or any number of social determinants, mobile health vehicles help overcome these obstacles by meeting students and families where they live and work.
At a recent community event where the new mobile health vehicle was unveiled, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino thanked Kaiser Permanente for its support and commitment to increasing access to health care throughout Fresno County.
“Thank you, Kaiser Permanente. When our kids can’t get health care, can’t get in a car and drive 30 miles, we’re going to them and we couldn’t do it without you,” said Yovino. “This is going to change the lives and trajectory of so many families in our county.”
Step inside the new mobile vehicle
Staffed by registered nurses of FCSS Health Services, the new mobile health vehicle has the capacity to provide a range of health services for students and their families.
The vehicle features an intake area for patients to answer questions and fill out health information, a refrigeration unit to properly store vaccinations and medications, a restroom, and 2 fully equipped exam rooms.
The mobile units offer basic health screenings, sports and school physicals, vaccinations, and for the last several months has provided COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Access to basic health care is critical for our families and our communities, but remains an ongoing challenge for so many,” said Wade Nogy, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente Fresno. “We are proud to partner with the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools to help ensure children and families have equitable access to care in all corners of our community.”
Take a tour of the new mobile health unit on Twitter!