On September 4, New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine-Arkansas (NYITCOM-Arkansas) unveiled its highly anticipated Delta Care-a-van, a mobile medical unit that will provide free health screenings to patients in the Mississippi Delta region.
Last spring, NYITCOM-Arkansas received a U.S. Department of Agriculture Delta Healthcare Service Grant for $828,748 to fund health education screenings. Much of the funding was used to build the van, and after months of construction, the 40-foot long vehicle has arrived in Arkansas and will soon be deployed for health screenings.
The medical school has been actively conducting free health screenings throughout communities in Northeast Arkansas. The mobile unit will enhance these efforts by offering seven screenings per month (approximately two per week) during the first year of the program. Since March 2019, NYITCOM-Arkansas and its Delta Care-a-van partners—University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS), St. Bernards Medical Center, and the Arkansas State (A-State) University College of Nursing and Health Professions—conducted 13 free health screenings in the communities of Harrisburg, Leachville, Lepanto, Manila, Piggott, Marked Tree, and Walnut Ridge.
NYITCOM-Arkansas student Katy Byrd gives Bryan Exum, acting area director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forrest City Area Office, a tour of the Delta Care-a-Van.
The Care-a-van is equipped with two examination rooms, an intake area, and telemedicine capabilities. Patients will be screened for hypertension, glucose, and anxiety and depression. Each screening will also provide hands-on training for aspiring medical professionals, namely NYITCOM-Arkansas medical students, resident physicians from UAMS and St. Bernards Medical Center, and A-State nursing and social work students who will conduct the screenings. Patients will also receive referrals to regional physicians for follow-up care and information about community health resources.
“Through the Delta Care-a-van, our aspiring medical professionals will also experience the joys, opportunities, and challenges of rural practice,” said Brookshield Laurent, D.O., chair of Clinical Medicine at NYITCOM-Arkansas and Delta Care-a-van director. “Our medical students, along with the residents and A-State students, will be working in areas where people are looking to be better informed about their health and health-related issues. We have a real opportunity to make a tremendous impact on these communities.”
By Casey Pearce