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A new mobile health clinic aims to bring services to underserved communities

mobilehealthclinic2.jpeg
Carter Barrett
/
Side Effects Public Media
The mobile health center holds two exam rooms and a laboratory.

Indianapolis-based nonprofit HealthNet recently launched a new mobile health clinic with the goal to increase health care access in rural and low-income communities. The new clinic will operate four days a week, rotating between Monroe, Morgan and Marion counties.

The RV-sized clinic offers two exam rooms and a laboratory. Patients can receive primary care visits, immunizations, blood pressure screens, HIV testing, mental health screenings and referrals to specialty care.

“People wait sometimes six months to get into a primary care provider,” HealthNet Chief Business Development Officer Carrie Bonsack said. “This mobile health unit … will really meet the needs of individuals and bring the care to them.”

mobileclinic4.jpg
Carter Barrett
/
Side Effects Public Media
The new mobile clinic will offer primary care visits, immunizations, blood pressure screens, HIV testing, mental health screenings and referrals to specialty care

Bonsack said transportation remains a barrier for many low-income and rural residents when seeking health care. HealthNet hopes to use data gathered on the mobile clinic to inform decisions on where future clinics are located and what services are needed most.

The mobile clinic is supported by a $2 million, three-year grant from United Health Foundation, the philanthropic branch of insurer UnitedHealth Group.

According to UnitedHealth data, primary care and preventative visits declined during the pandemic. Recently, hospitals and doctors reported an increase in health complications because of delayed care.

Bonsack said the clinic helps fulfill HealthNet’s decades-long mission of providing care to underserved communities.

“There's so many people — especially in Black and brown communities — that mistrust, or have absolutely no trust in health care organizations,” Bonsack said. “And so by being out in the community like we are now, we're hopeful that we're able to gain trust of individuals.”

Contact reporter Carter Barrett at cbarrett@wfyi.org, and on Twitter @carter_barrett.

Carter is a reporter based at WFYI in Indianapolis, Indiana. A long-time Hoosier, she is thrilled to stay in her hometown to cover public health. Previously, she covered education for WFYI News with a focus on school safety. Carter graduated with a journalism degree from Indiana University, and previously interned with stations in Bloomington, Indiana and Juneau, Alaska.