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Published in News Stories on May 08, 2017
On hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony are, from left, Stanley Herren, Regions; Bobbie Ward, SON alumna; Dr. Claude Brunson, senior adviser to the vice chancellor; Pamela Helms, nurse practitioner; Dr. Janet Harris, associate dean for practice and community engagement in the SON; Kim Hoover, SON dean; Alon Bee, Regions city president; Candie Simmons, Regions regional marketing director; Dwight Rawls, Regions; Deborah Renfroe, SON business operations; Dr. Sheila Henderson, major gifts officer; and Lisa Vaughan, SON budget and finance.
On hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony are, from left, Stanley Herren, Regions; Bobbie Ward, SON alumna; Dr. Claude Brunson, senior adviser to the vice chancellor; Pamela Helms, nurse practitioner; Dr. Janet Harris, associate dean for practice and community engagement in the SON; Kim Hoover, SON dean; Alon Bee, Regions city president; Candie Simmons, Regions regional marketing director; Dwight Rawls, Regions; Deborah Renfroe, SON business operations; Dr. Sheila Henderson, major gifts officer; and Lisa Vaughan, SON budget and finance.

UNACARE Mobile Clinic to take health care directly to Midtown patients

Media Contact: Amanda Markow at 601-984-4878 or amarkow@umc.edu.

For years, the UNACARE Health Clinic in the Jackson Midtown community had been the primary health care provider for the area.

But when the University of Mississippi School of Nursing learned that lack of transportation was hindering many in Midtown from getting to the clinic, the idea for the new UNACARE Mobile Clinic was born. The brand new vehicle was unveiled Friday at the Jackson Medical Mall as part of the School of Nursing Honors Day.

Starting this summer, the UNACARE Mobile Clinic will take health care directly to patients in the Midtown area two days a week. A nurse practitioner will see patients in the van's exam room, while another professional will register patients in the front “reception” area.

“We looked at the no-show rate and other factors and realized that a large number of people in the area had no transportation,” said Dr. Janet Harris, associate dean of practice and community engagement in the School of Nursing. “We realized we needed to take health care to people in the community.”

The van is a fully equipped clinic on wheels. Harris said the van was built specifically for UMMC to the exact details that the School of Nursing and a nurse practitioner requested, down to the colors and even the flooring.

“It's amazing how big it is inside. The one word I've heard from everyone who has been on the van has been, 'wow,'” said Harris.

The new UNACARE vehicle is a fully equipped clinic on wheels.
The new UNACARE vehicle is a fully equipped clinic on wheels.

A two-person team will take the clinic to the Midtown community, with plans to expand services as the need is identified. School of Nursing students will also have the opportunity to work with the mobile clinic.

“Our first goal is to serve the Midtown area; second is to serve Head Start by providing early prescreening diagnostic tests as needed throughout the community and spread from there,” said Harris. 

Harris said children on Medicaid are required to have early screenings in order to go to Head Start daycare, but due to lack of transportation, children in the area were low in compliance. “We wanted to take that process to the children,” she added.

Dr. Kristi Hendrix, director of Midtown Partners and a member of the van's advisory board, is also excited about what the van will bring to the community.  “The mobile unit is an exciting feature added to the health outreach component. It will provide additional opportunities for some of our most vulnerable populations to not only seek care for illnesses but also to promote overall wellness care.” 

She is hopeful that the mobile clinic will make routine visits to some of their ongoing programs, specifically those for senior citizens.

“The real return on investment will be seen in the decreased visits to the emergency room per household as well as the proactive steps taken in experiencing healthy lifestyles.  We're not only looking for changes with individual patients but household shifts,” said Hendrix.

UNACARE nurses, from left, Sherrikee Causey, Pamela Helms and Joe Mitchell take a look inside the mobile clinic.
UNACARE nurses, from left, Sherrikee Causey, Pamela Helms and Joe Mitchell take a look inside the mobile clinic.

Once the idea for the mobile clinic was put in place, funding was the natural next step. Several School of Nursing alumni as well as community partners made the van possible.  

“Our alumni and community partners are some of the most generous I've ever seen. Once they see the situation in underserved areas, they come to the table with solutions really quickly,” said Dr. Kim Hoover, dean of the School of Nursing.

One of the donors was School of Nursing alumni and former faculty member Bobbie Ward. She was a graduate of the first four-year nursing class at UMMC and taught at the School of Nursing for 25 years.  

Ward gave her gift in honor of her parents, Elva and Wallace Gooch. Both were University of Mississippi alums who spent their careers in education.

“This van is going to meet so many wonderful needs. It's something my mother and father would be so proud of,” she said.

School of Nursing alumna Patricia Dyre Kimble and former faculty and alumna Dr. Rene Marie Reeb are the other donors who helped put the van into action.

Mississippi Regions made a significant gift to the $144,000 mobile clinic.

“When the Medical Center presented this idea, we thought it was a great opportunity to give back to the community, especially after we were presented with the facts that people lacked transportation,” said Candie Simmons, senior vice president and Mississippi regional marketing director for Regions.

“Once people can receive adequate health care, it improves their quality of life and further impacts the community's progress. Transportation to receive health care is huge for residents in this community,” she said.

The van is easily recognizable with smiling faces and UMMC and Regions logos on the sides. The mobile clinic will give Regions, as well as UMMC, an additional presence in the Midtown neighborhood and any other future areas of service, something both Harris and Simmons are excited about.

“Through the UNACARE Mobile Clinic, we will be able to reach those people that aren't being reached by anyone else,” said Harris.