NYITCOM at A-State Secures USDA Funding for Mobile Medical Clinic

May 21, 2018

New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University (NYITCOM at A-State) has received a total award of $828,748 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a mobile medical clinic aimed at delivering health care to underserved and rural populations in Arkansas and the Delta region.

Health care outcomes in the Mississippi Delta region are among the worst in the nation, creating a high demand for clinically trained rural physicians and health professionals. In an effort to break down barriers to health care, NYITCOM at A-State, in collaboration with Arkansas State University (A-State) College of Nursing and Health Professions, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Northeast Family Medicine Residency Program, and St. Bernards Medical Center Internal Medicine Residency Program, will develop a mobile medical clinic, known as the “Delta Care-a-van.”

This mobile clinic will initially travel to the heart of seven northeast Arkansas rural communities to deliver preventative care services and health education without cost or need for an appointment. Funded by the USDA Delta Healthcare Service Grant, with $828,748 awarded in federal shares and $228,604 provided in kind, this service will expand care to patients who might otherwise be unable to see a physician. Patients visiting the mobile clinic will receive health education and screenings for untreated chronic conditions including obesity, diabetes, and anxiety/depression, as well as referrals to regional physicians for follow-up care.

“The Delta Care-a-van program will allow us to remove several of the obstacles to health care that have prevented local residents from receiving the health services and education they deserve and need,” said Shane Speights, D.O., native Arkansan and site dean, NYITCOM at A-State. “At the same time, this service will provide valuable clinical training to an ‘army’ of future physicians and health care professionals, and will also expose them to the joys, opportunities, and challenges of rural practice.”

“Our college is excited to be involved in this interprofessional education and service delivery project that will impact many of the smaller towns in our region. The health of our communities is so important to our economic future,” said Dr. Susan Hanrahan, Ph.D., dean, Arkansas State University College of Nursing and Health Professions. “I think we can make a difference.” 

Equipped with two examination rooms and state-of-the-art telemedicine technology (telecommunication and information technology that enables clinical health care from a distance), the mobile clinic will offer a training program for medical students from NYITCOM at A-State, resident physicians from UAMS and St. Bernards Medical Center, and Arkansas State University nursing and social work students. Under the guidance of NYITCOM at A-State faculty and trained medical experts, these students will conduct screenings and wellness examinations to monitor blood pressure, blood glucose, and signs of mental health conditions. Patients requiring additional treatment will be connected to local providers or receive telemedicine consultation while on board the mobile clinic, building upon NYITCOM at A-State’s legacy of being among the first U.S. medical schools to train first-year medical students to deliver care via telemedicine.

“UAMS Northeast Family Medicine Residency is very excited to be a part of this innovative project that will help bring vital preventative care services to Arkansans who live in the Delta,” said Scott Dickson, M.D., assistant professor and director, UAMS Northeast Family Medicine Residency Program.

“At St. Bernards, we began the Internal Medicine residency program to meet a very important need in this area - to equip clinically trained physicians to provide care to the patients who need it the most," said Chris Barber, president and CEO of St. Bernards Healthcare. "We are happy to partner with NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, Arkansas State University and UAMS on this Delta Care-a-van program so our Internal Medicine residents can continue the St. Bernards mission of providing Christ-like healing.”

The mobile clinic is expected to begin visiting the Arkansas cities of Harrisburg, Leachville, Lepanto, Manila, Piggott, Walnut Ridge, and Marked Tree in late summer 2018, with plans to expand services to other areas of the Delta region. The Delta Care-a-van will see patients in the seven communities, conducting an expected 78 mobile clinic encounters over the course of approximately 18 months, and will offer evening hour services.

From these visits, NYITCOM at A-State will collect data regarding diabetes, obesity, immunization and vaccination, prenatal care, mental health, and other health topics to measure performance levels and determine strategies for improving patient outcomes.

For more information about NYITCOM at A-State, visit nyit.edu/arkansas.

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