CareSouth Carolina unveils new mobile unit
By Jana E. Pye, Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
A crowd of runners crossing the finish line at the CareFIRST Foundation 5k event gathered around the newest addition to the CareSouth Carolina community health outreach effort – a large mobile “doctor’s office on wheels” that will provide much needed healthcare.
“We are very excited about this,” said Mark Sobiski, Director of the CareFirst Carolina Foundation. “When you think about all the different communities we will serve, there are so many children that are without a healthcare home. What we are hoping to do is to find those kids and help them. A lot are getting lost in the shuffle. They may be living with their parents, or grandparents, or for all intents and purposes they may even be homeless. They may not have a ‘place’ moving from aunts to uncles, that sort of thing. With this new mobile unit, we can bring healthcare directly to them at their schools.”
The unit is a collaboration of CareSouth Carolina and the ROADS Team, and will be staffed with a nurse practitioner, registered nurse and nurse assistant.
The interior of the mobile unit has two examining rooms, office space, and a comfortable waiting area. It will go to locations in the five county area that CareSouth serves on a contract basis.
“We are delighted to have this with us,” said Tracy Teal, Chief of Community Health for CareSouth Carolina. We have just gotten this, based on a needs assessment for our community. CareSouth tries to provide for everybody in our community, but because of our status as a federally qualified health center, we get additional dollars to provide for those that have need, that don’t have income, and are not insured or underinsured. So, we have found there is a tremendous population of children that are not taken care of, or live in areas where we just can’t get enough pediatricians and so forth. We bought this unit with the intention of getting directly to where the need is.”
Some of the services the team anticipates they will offer:
• Well child visits and chronic illness screenings
• Physical exams, which are required before pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and sixth and ninth grades
• Sports physicals, which are recommended for all grade-school and high-school athletes
• Lab testing, including for hemoglobin, and lead for children under age 6
• Random glucose testing
• Vision screening
• Health education
• Behavioral Health counseling
“We approached Chesterfield County schools while we were there for another mission, and they immediately said they wanted it at their schools.” continued Teal. “We will have this at the Chesterfield County schools four days a week, and then one day a week in Darlington at CitiTrends (distribution center). During the summer, we are going to be in locations here in this community and be very local. In the evenings, we have different programs that allow us to go in different communities to provide health care.”
At CitiTrends, the mobile unit will provide mainly womens health care services to the nearly 300 employees; the larger examining room is equipped to offer GYN appointments, with referrals to an obstetrician for pregnancy related issues.
Mikey the Mako Shark was on hand for the ribbon cutting, part of the Mako Medical team based out of Raleigh, N.C. that serves the Carolinas. According to CareFIRST Foundation Director Mark Sobiski, Mako’s CEO Chad Price was one of the first investors in the mobile unit.
“He is very community orientated and wanted to give back to the community, because when he was coming up he had difficulties as well,” said Sobiski. “He is very empathetic to what we are trying to do. His support makes a big difference.”
Fain Buete with Mako Medical agreed. “Part of our mission is to give back, so we are always looking for new opportunities to help. Mark was telling us about his foundation and what they are doing with the mobile unit and it was a perfect fit. They got on our radar because we learned of a baby that died because the formula was being watered down. And it just kind of hit us. When he said he had this mobile unit planned for pediatrics, we were really excited to participate. CareSouth takes care of everyone so fantastically. They do a great job at their organization.”
The staff of the mobile unit has added additional training to their medical expertise – training for CDL licenses to drive the unit. Staff of the mobile unit Jerry Andrews Nurse Practitioner, said that Angela Smith, RNA, and Jill Roberts, RN will be doing the driving.
The team is prepared to begin their first visits by September.
CareSouth is already making plans to purchase another unit, according to Tracy Teal, Chief of Community Health. “Yesterday I talked to the Marlboro County School district to let them know about this, and they immediately said yes. Lee County is also involved. We will send them contracts and share this unit with them in January. If things go as well as we think, by January we’ll have to get another unit, we’ve already maxed this one out.”
CareSouth was also recently approved to be a provider for Veterans health services.
“Veterans have to drive to central locations, because of the big push last year with people having to wait so long. We got approved this year to be a provider, so they don’t have to go to Columbia or Charleston any more, veterans can just go to one of our sites.”
For mobile users, please click on the gallery: CareSouth Carolina Mobile Unit
CareSouth is in five counties: Chesterfield, Marlboro, Darlington, Dillon, and Lee. They have 12 offices and 14 practices. They recently recruited chiropractic services and started to offer OB/GYN again.
To receive more information on the CareFIrst Carolina Foundation, contact:
Mark Sobiski, Foundation Director
1268 S. 4th Street (P.O. Box 1090) Hartsville, SC 29550