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Mobile Clinics Go Where Clinics Haven't Gone Before

Mobile clinics are becoming a popular way to serve veterans health care, according to Rep. Cedric Hayden, R-Cottage Grove. (William Heimbuch/U.S. Navy)
Mobile clinics are becoming a popular way to serve veterans health care, according to Rep. Cedric Hayden, R-Cottage Grove. (William Heimbuch/U.S. Navy)
February 24, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - In small Oregon towns where there are no clinics to visit, the clinics visit the residents.

Mobile clinics are gaining popularity across the state for people who have limited or no access to nearby facilities, and they are providing an array of health services.

State Representative Cedric Hayden, R-Fall Creek, who is also a dentist, says around 95 percent of Oregon's population is qualified for some sort of coverage.

"What that doesn't mean is that 95 percent of the population actually reach out and get that coverage, or 95 percent of the population actually have a place that they can go to utilize that health coverage," says Hayden.

Doctors and nurses typically work in outfitted RV's or tractor-trailer units designed to pick up and go once services are delivered.

Mobile clinics got a boost last year when Oregon passed Hayden's House Bill 3139, which allows mobile clinics to stay for extended periods of time in communities. He says this cuts costs drastically for towns where clinics aren't a financially viable option.

"You have the infrastructure costs in a mobile clinic, which is relatively close to a brick-and-mortar clinic, but you can't pick up and go to a next town and then come back every six months to provide that service," says Hayden. "Where, with the mobile, you can."

Hayden provides mobile dental care throughout the year. Starting in March, the representative will target veterans specifically in order to help fill gaps in their VA coverage.

Leda Garside is a nurse with Salud Services who works with both insured and uninsured seasonal vineyard workers.

Salud, which works in partnership with Tuality Healthcare, has a small mobile clinic it brings into the vineyards for health screenings, including diabetes tests and vaccinations.

"We were able to design it to our needs," she says. "It's a full, equipped medical room. It's small but it's mighty."

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR