[4 minute read]
The Mobile Health Clinic in Santa Rosa goes where the need is greatest
The couple looked worried. A recent wave of shutdowns in Sonoma County, Calif. had been too much for their business, and they’d been forced to lay off most of their staff. Without health insurance, where would their employees get care?
“Tell them about the mobile health clinic,” said Jennifer Eid-Ammons, FNP-C, who manages the clinic. “We can help.” Providence Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s Mobile Health Clinic provides free walk-in medical care for community members who lack insurance or access to care. “The woman’s eyes filled with tears and the worry just drained away,” recalls Eid-Ammons. “That’s the story of the mobile clinic – for some, it’s their medical home for care, and for others, it’s a vital but temporary safety net.”
Shifting gears for 30 years
Since 1991, the Mobile Health Clinic has been reaching beyond hospital walls to bring care to underserved neighborhoods throughout the community. Today, it provides care and assistance to more than 4,000 people throughout Sonoma County each year. In 2021, community benefit funding by Providence totaled more than $900,000.
In addition to diagnosing and treating chronic and acute medical conditions, the team gives needed blood pressure cuffs, glucometers, and nebulizers to patients who can’t afford them; administers flu vaccines at Kid Street Charter School and drive-through clinics; coordinates appointments; and even provides shoes and clothing to patients in need.
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Ready to serve vulnerable people at risk from COVID-19
As a clinic on wheels, one of its greatest advantages has been its ability to turn on a dime and head wherever the need is greatest. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the team pivoted quickly, working hand in hand with the Sonoma County Public Health Department to get worried residents tested and vaccinated. It also traveled to shelters, drop-in centers, and homeless encampments to provide information, testing, and vaccination. Following an outbreak at a shelter, the team began twice-weekly COVID-19 testing for the residents and partnered with Catholic Charities to provide closer care planning.
Angels in the shelters
“Jennifer and her team were ministering angels at our shelters, providing trusted, compassionate health expertise that put anxious residents at ease,” says Jennielynn Holmes, chief program officer for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, pictured above. “With their help, we were able to protect residents’ health while limiting interruption to their transition from homelessness to housing.”
A small but mighty team
The breadth of the clinic’s contributions to Sonoma County is all the more amazing in light of the size of its staff: Jennifer, who has served as a clinic caregiver for 24 years, is joined by one additional nurse practitioner and two relief NPs, three medical assistants and a new role: a much-needed community health care worker.
“We are a small but mighty team,” says Eid-Ammons. When the calls for help started coming in during the pandemic, she says, the Mobile Health Clinic responded as it always has: “Yes, let’s do it. When do we start?”
About the Mobile Health Clinic
The Sisters of St. Joseph launched the mobile clinic in 1991 in response to community needs. The clinic is currently funded by community health investments, including community benefits, that are informed by community health needs assessments.
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