Hospital Spotlight: Sparrow Mobile Clinic Supports Underserved Mid-Michigan Region

Posted on August 08, 2019

Hospital SpotlightMobile health clinics are essentially a doctor’s office or medical clinic on wheels. They’re often located in a motor coach bus or recreation vehicle and allow healthcare teams to travel to remote areas or regions that are underserved. They provide services such as immunizations, education and physician referrals, and behavioral health and chronic health screenings.

Several years ago, Sparrow Health System, Lansing, participated in a joint effort called Healthy Capital Counties. The collaboration included the Ingham, Mid-Michigan and Barry Eaton public health departments, as well as Sparrow, McLaren Greater Lansing, Eaton Rapids Medical Center and Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital in Charlotte. Healthy Capital Counties conducted a community-based health needs assessment that determined access to healthcare was a top priority. It also showed there were several medically underserved communities that needed to be connected to primary care and there were social isolation, transportation and socioeconomic barriers that needed to be tackled.

In 2016, Sparrow partnered with the Ingham County Health Department and Dean Transportation, aiming to provide better patient access, serve healthcare deserts and reduce health disparities.

As part of the collaborative, the Ingham County Health Department donated one of its older buses to become a mobile health clinic, and Dean Transportation offered the services of its drivers whenever the bus would head out to various neighborhoods, shelters, senior centers and apartment complexes in Ingham County.

The partnership proved to be successful due to strong champions who willingly led the effort and shared viewpoints and strategies among the organizations.

In 2017, the mobile health clinic ran a full schedule and the bus needed to be replaced. The Sparrow Foundation connected Sparrow with donors who had a strong interest in community health. A private donor awarded enough funds for a new, state-of-the-art bus that houses two exam rooms, waiting area, private room for behavior health consultations and a wheelchair lift. It is also wired for internet, which allows charting in Epic electronic health records, referral coordination and potential for billing services. Future operations will be funded by proceeds from the Sparrow Foundation Women Working Wonders.

The new Sparrow Mobile Health Clinic replaced the bus previously provided by the Ingham County Health Department, allowing Sparrow to be more efficient and expand its reach and services to Shiawassee, Eaton, Clinton, Ionia and Montcalm counties and the surrounding areas. 

Patients can receive shots, screenings and a physician’s exam. In addition, a community health worker provided by a public health department can provide social support resources.

The bus runs an average of 10 clinics per year, with the capacity to see 20 to 30 patients during each visit. A list of 2019 locations and dates for the clinic is available on the Sparrow website.

This article was featured in the MHA Keystone Center Newsletter. To subscribe, please contact Ashley Sandborn, MHA Keystone Center communications specialist.


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  • Hospital Spotlight: Sparrow Mobile Clinic Supports Underserved Mid-Michigan Region

Tags: Hospital Spotlight, Sparrow Health System, access to care

Posted in: Patient Safety & Quality

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