Providing school physicals for five young Afghan refugees, arranging for cataract surgery for a migrant worker, and finding a physician to perform tear duct surgery on a four old child are all in a days work for St. Vincent’s Mobile Health Outreach Ministry . With two state-of-the-art vehicles, St. Vincent’s Mobile Health Outreach Ministry (“MHOM”) delivers desperately-needed health care to a variety of vulnerable populations in Northeast Florida.
Its Migrant Health Program, established in 1991, takes medical care to fields and ferneries while the Urban Health Program, established in 1997, targets those inner-city populations, who lack access to the traditional health care delivery system, including the working poor, those who lack health insurance, transient or homeless adults, and medically-underserved children and youth. Working with public health departments and other public and private partners, the MHOM takes a physician’s office, complete with a doctor or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner and other professional staff, to residential facilities, churches and schools, in order to provide both acute and preventive medical care.
The MHOM provides a medical safety net to the area’s most vulnerable populations, individuals who, because of poverty, or issues of isolation, culture or language, are regularly denied meaningful access to health care. The MHOM offers the type of regular medical care, both acute and preventive, that most Americans take for granted. At the heart of its mission is the belief that no one should be denied medical care simply because of an inability to pay. In the three-year period ended June 30, 2002, the MHOM, through both its Migrant Health and Urban Health programs, made 772 regularly scheduled outreach visits providing primary medical care to 11,716 patients. Without the care provided by the MHOM, these individuals would have gone without treatment with the likelihood that the untreated condition would worsen.
In addition, the MHOM provided 2,295 school physicals and 1,443 immunizations to children. These physicals and immunizations are required for children to attend school. The physicals and related hearing, vision and dental screenings provide the MHOM physician an opportunity to look for abnormal findings and chronic conditions.
In addition to the medical care provided by the MHOM, St. Vincent’s assumes responsibility for all pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to the MHOM patients and assumes responsibility for specialty or secondary care that is beyond the scope of the MHOM. This care can be as simple as a child’s follow-up visit to a pediatrician for treatment of asthma or as serious as open-heart surgery for a migrant farm worker. St. Vincent’s recognizes that quality of health is a social concern that affects the entire community not just its individual members. Generosity of spirit, especially for persons most in need, and respect and compassion for the dignity and diversity of life empower the MHOM.