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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.


Heritage College mobile clinic contributes to success of huge free health care event

(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 the road.”

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 screenings.

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.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016