Free Mobile Clinics Make It Easy For People In Oregon And Washington To Get Medical And Dental Care

Galdina Sanchez Cruz, 43, attended a mobile dentistry clinic on Saturday at Chemeketa Community College in Salem without ever having visited a dentist before.

By the time a neighbour informed her about the free mobile clinics hosted frequently throughout Oregon and Washington, her teeth had been suffering for about a year.

The Mano a Mano Family Center collaborated with Medical Teams International and Kaiser Permanente to host the event on Saturday.

The clinic, which was housed on a large red bus, offered on-site dental care, COVID-19 vaccinations, diabetes testing, general health screenings, and health care navigation services, which assisted patients in finding primary care physicians or obtaining insurance.

Cruz received an extraction and a filling on the dental van.

Through a translator, she stated, “I’m pleased because I won’t have this agony anymore and I can be comfortable.

After registering, residents could learn about alternative health services like the Salem Free Clinics, which offers counselling services in addition to free medical and dental care. Staff from Mano a Mano distributed food boxes that included things like rice, beans, chicken, and dried chiles.

Offering a Helping Hand

Through its network of healthcare professionals, Mano a Mano already offers Latino communities in western Oregon support with education, housing, and social justice.

They claimed that Latino populations had an urgent need for access to medical and dental services.

Director of the Mano a Mano family wellness programme Maria Jaramillo remarked, “We just want to be that helping hand.”

Cruz doesn’t speak English, which may make it difficult for him to get medical attention. Jaramillo of Mano a Mano explained that despite translator services frequently being available, language limitations sometimes make it challenging to communicate medical needs.

People might not be able to take time off of work to go to appointments, or they might not be aware of the kinds of health benefits they are eligible for.

Catherine Potter, senior programme manager of community and social health at Kaiser Permanente, declared that “our health care system is terribly complex.” Even many who have insurance are unaware of what it covers.

Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Dollars are used to fund the clinics, and all services are free. Grants are granted to neighbourhood organisations to help in clinic operations.

Breaking Down Barriers

For Kaiser Permanente and Medical Teams, adopting a mobile clinic approach to serve the community is nothing new.

The two groups collaborated to offer mobile COVID-19 vaccination and testing clinics during the coronavirus pandemic, focused on assisting rural populations in Oregon and Washington.

According to Potter, 298 community-based clinics in the Pacific Northwest provided 12,153 vaccines in 2021.

One thing, she claimed, was made very evident by her research: “The patients who encounter difficulties to receiving COVID immunizations have barriers to receiving other sorts of care.”

Many people who were contacted by community-based organisations to learn more about those barriers expressed the need for dental care.

Kaiser Permanente was able to contribute to the development of a programme that is “addressing community health issues widely” by working with Medical Teams, which has been offering mobile medical and dental services for decades, according to Potter.

Care and Connection

In the beginning, communities in the joint “Care and Connect” Program receive critical care at mobile clinics. Community members can then transition into more reliable and dependable care at nearby primary care and counselling locations.

They want to speak with anyone who might be hesitant or confused about using the healthcare system.

According to Medical Teams International’s executive director of U.S. programmes, Cindy Breilh, “it offers our team joy to be able to get out there and get to individuals.”

According to Breilh, 6% of Oregon’s population is uninsured, compared to 25% who are on Medicaid.

She remarked, “That’s a lot of folks who could feel excluded from our healthcare system.”

They provide care to everyone who visits their clinics, including elderly individuals, veterans, people of colour, farm workers, and those who are homeless.

When providing care for these populations, Breilh noted, “We don’t want to provide anything less than the best care.”

The Medical Teams personnel has operated 487 clinics while performing 16,206 dental operations as part of the Care and Connect Program. People of colour made up nearly 41% of the patients we serviced.

The clinic on Saturday was open to walk-ins only; appointments weren’t necessary. It gave aid to 225 persons. Mano a Mano spoke with the Statesman Journal on Saturday.

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