Staffers of the Heritage College’s Community Health Program’s mobile unit stand in front of the program’s mobile clinic, during its visit on Saturday, June 6 to the Ohio River Medical Mission in Pomeroy, Ohio. From left: Cayla Coffman, a VISTA volunteer for AmeriCorps; Carole Merckle, assistant director of CHP/AHEC; Tobie Newberry, certified nurse practitioner, and Brian Johnson, the mobile unit’s driver.
(ATHENS, Ohio — June 24, 2015) Among the regional care providers who
helped make the recent 10-day Ohio River Medical Mission (ORMM) a
success was Community Health Programs (CHP) at the Ohio University
Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine.
CHP saw the event, which
took place June 2-11 in Pomeroy, Ohio, as a chance to augment its
long-standing efforts to provide better health care to underserved
populations in southeastern Ohio, while also spreading the word more
widely about the many services it provides.
Program staffers took CHP’s new 40-foot mobile clinic, of which
the college took delivery in May, to the Meigs County event for four
out of its 10 days. On June 5, the clinic offered a health screening
day. On June 6 and 8, it provided free episodic clinics for general
health concerns, and on June 10, breast and cervical screenings.
The Medical Mission served as a Medical Innovative Readiness
Training for the U.S. military. During its 10-day run, free medical
services, as well as veterinary services, were offered to the public
at Meigs High School and the county fairgrounds.
Carole Merckle, B.S.N., R.N., assistant director of Community
Health Programs and the Area Health Education Center, said that
while the mobile clinic already makes regular trips into Meigs and
other area counties, many people in the area still aren’t aware of
the services it makes available for free or reduced cost. The
clinic’s presence at ORMM may help change that, she said.
“What we’re hoping to get out of this is being able to become a
resource for more people to help fill gaps in health care,” she
explained. “We want people in all area counties to understand that
we are a service that is available for follow-up. If they get a
referral (from an ORMM care provider), they’ll know that we’re
someone they may be able to come to, because we take the clinic on
Since 1994, CHP mobile clinics have traveled hundreds of
thousands of miles, providing free and reduced-cost health care to
people who need it in multiple southeastern Ohio counties. Programs
offered include screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose
and glaucoma; immunizations for children and adults; free clinics
(episodic, dermatology and diabetes); and breast and cervical
The Meigs County Commissioners, with help from Buckeye
Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District, applied
successfully to the U.S. Department of Defense to bring the Ohio
River Medical Mission to their county. Mindy Cayton, a planner at
Buckeye Hills, said the participation of the Heritage College’s
mobile clinic allowed the ORMM to provide breast and cervical
screenings that otherwise wouldn’t have been available.
It also helped the program in “making the public aware of the
services the college provides,” Cayton added. She noted that a major
aim of the Medical Mission was to connect the patients who showed up
with “with local services and supports.” By having a presence at the
Mission, she said, the Heritage College helped make its existence
better known to many in the region who can benefit from its
community outreach programs.