Covered Bridge Healthcare in Centreville soon will expand its outreach to the community through a specially customized mobile medical unit.
“We’re looking forward to delivering healthcare on site to people who don’t have transportation,” CEO Rick Shaffer said of the new mobile health clinic.
Covered Bridge Healthcare took possession of the unit, donated by Michiana Millworks, on Friday.
Michiana Millworks owner Jeff Kuhl “stepped up when COVID came,” said Ren Hartung, president of the Covered Bridge Healthcare board. “We had a challenge with testing people for the virus without bringing them indoors.”
Kuhl was looking for a way to use his skills to help during the pandemic, and he found it creating mobile medical units.
LifeCare Ambulance had donated a chassis for which Michiana was building a new body, but Kuhl realized that if he used a new truck, it would be ready more quickly.
“They needed it now,” he said.
So he purchased a brand new truck for the project.
“The timing worked out great,” he added.
When more efficient COVID-19 testing becomes available, the mobile unit will offer that service.
Michiana Millworks will retrofit the LifeCare vehicle at some point, providing Covered Bridge Healthcare with a second mobile unit.
Plans for a clinic on wheels began to take shape about about 18 months ago, as staff and board members brainstormed how to provide healthcare in different parts of the county.
One area to which services will be delivered is the Amish community, which has identified a home care program that will use the mobile unit.
Twice a week, Covered Bridge Healthcare personnel have been visiting Twin County Community Probation Center in Three Rivers. Since the Center’s medical space is limited, the mobile unit will provide more room.
It also will park weekly at First Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers, where Covered Bridge Healthcare offers free health screenings in partnership with United Community Assistance Program.
Shaffer is in discussion with Tim Stoll, executive director of St. Joseph County Commission, about setting up sessions at senior centers in Sturgis and Three Rivers. He also plans to connect with major local agricultural producers about delivering health care to migrant workers in the fields.
“The uniqueness of this sort of health care,” Shaffer said. “From a national standpoint, this is the upcoming way of service delivery.” He noted it will expand reach tremendously.
The bricks-and-mortar facility has a goal of serving at least 4,000 patients per year. The mobile health clinic will have a goal of serving at least 2,000 patients in that same time rame.
Funding for the program comes from Health Resources and Services Administration. The mobile unit will be under the scope of Covered Bridge Healthcare’s grant, but has its own individuality.
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