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Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine adds mini mobile unit to health clinic fleet

The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine has added a new mobile unit to its fleet. At 27 feet, the new unit, which will be used by the Heritage Community Clinic to provide free medical services in Southeast Ohio, is smaller than the two 40-foot units the clinic now operates. Its smaller size will make it possible to navigate rural roads and better access isolated communities in Southeast Ohio. 

At a recent celebration to unveil the new mini mobile unit, Ohio University President Lori Stewart Gonzalez said that universities are charged with improving the lives of the people in their communities, and the Heritage College is leading the way through the many clinical services provided through its Community Health Programs.

“This is a great example of how we engage with the community not to the community – to make outcomes better for the people in our region. I’m proud of that and of our Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine,” said Gonzalez. “I know the struggles that we have in Appalachia with health, transportation, food insecurity, and education and our osteopathic college is working to ensure that health is one of the areas of focus as we plan for the future of our University.”

Dr. Tracy Shaub speaks at mini mobile unit celebration

“Involvement of the broader university community has been critical to the success of the Heritage Community Clinic. So today we celebrate much more. We celebrate the partnerships and the people across Ohio and Ohio University who have fueled our commitment to community impact,” said Community Health Programs Medical Director and Heritage College, Athens Dean Tracy Shaub, D.O.

The mobile units operate as free and charitable clinics, providing quality health care for uninsured and underinsured individuals who would not otherwise have access to these services. The new unit will be integrated into the 24-county service area in Southeast Ohio covered by Community Health Programs and the Heritage Community Clinic.  Because the mini mobile unit can more easily travel in hard-to-reach parts of the region, it will help the Heritage Community Clinic expand services, such as health screenings and immunization clinics, to more people.

“More than a quarter of the state we’re impacting through these programs. Most of the people who come to our programs – 80 to 90 percent – say they would get no care if it wasn’t for the work of these incredible health professionals reaching out into the communities,” said Heritage College Executive Dean Kenneth Johnson, D.O.

“This mobile unit is another example of our ability to find ways to deliver quality care to the many who would otherwise go without. We all know that no one person or facility is able to meet all the needs,” said Shaub. 

President Gonzalez and the mobile health clinic team celebrate the unveiling of a new unit.

Community Health Programs has been providing critical health care services to the region for more than three decades. Across Southeast Ohio, a shortage of primary care providers combined with other barriers to health care makes the services provided by Community Health Programs and the Heritage Community Clinic even more critical. 

“We began our Community Health Programs with the idea of people helping people to bring quality health care services to all of Southeast Ohio,” said Johnson. “We want to be part of something that’s bigger than ourselves and in turn attract students who want to be part of something that’s bigger than themselves…Things like our mobile unit are a way for us to extend our ability to have impact in our communities.” 

The mini mobile unit was made possible with the assistance of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who helped secure funding for the unit. 

“The best ideas come from Ohio and each year our office works with Ohioans to secure resources through congressionally directed spending to support projects like this one and ensure that Ohioans voices are heard,” Brown said in a letter presented to the university by Kaleb Knowlton, Appalachian regional representative for the senator. “I am honored to support this project so that the community health programs can continue its service to Appalachian Ohioans for years to come.” 

April 4, 2024
Staff reports