The 45 foot long Unimóvil (mobile health clinic) rolls into a small community in a medically underserved area in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas. This "doctor's office on wheels" is furnished with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment. As the driver and a member of the clinic's staff pull out the stairs and prepare to open the doors, people from the community – mothers and children, senior citizens, students and working men and women – begin to gather for the opportunity to see a doctor, to get a prescription or laboratory test, or to have an infant immunized against common childhood diseases. The majority are Hispanic and poor, some lacking the basic necessities of clean water and electricity.
Dr. Wesley Harden, assistant professor of Preventive Medicine, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine, one of the physicians who helps staff the Unimóvil, said, "Many of the people who live here are part of a population that has been pushed to the side and not a lot of resources or attention have been devoted to them."
See the mobile medical clinic at work in the Rio Grande Valley.
As part of an ongoing partnership with the UTRGV School of Medicine, United Health Foundation funded the university's Center for Colonia Integrated Care (CCIC) in 2015 with a $2.9 million grant to help improve access to primary and preventive health care services in the community. In 2016, two Unimóvil mobile clinics were commissioned by the program. These clinics are expected to serve the health care needs of approximately 5,000 residents annually with primary care services, preventive health screenings and diagnosis and treatment of common dental and behavioral health conditions.
"Access to quality primary and preventive care is essential for people to maintain good health and quality of life," said Dr. Francisco Fernandez, professor of psychiatry, neurology and neuroscience, UTRGV School of Medicine. "Unimóvil can help remove some barriers to health care, such as transportation, child care and work obligations, that often put even routine checkups at risk. It brings health care closer to where people live and work."
Dr. Harden added, "This program is different because we are providing continuity of care. We're not just coming in and doing the program for a month, then heading out. We're keeping medical charts on patients and providing follow-up as well."
"One of the ways we help build healthier communities is by partnering with local organizations to make it easier for people to access health care services," said Don Langer, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas. "Unimóvil is on the front lines of care, delivering the health care provider and vital services to our neighbors who need them most."
The UnitedHealthcare Children's Foundation (UHCCF) provides medical grants to help children gain access to health-related services not covered, or not fully covered, by their family's commercial health insurance plan.
Since 2007, UHCCF has awarded 13,000 grants valued at $35 million to children and their families across the United States. UHCCF's funding is provided by contributions from individuals, corporations and UnitedHealth Group employees.
There is no better way to understand the positive impact a UHCCF grant can have on a child's life than to hear what his or her parents have to say. Here is a personal story from a grant recipient:
UHCCF grant recipient Micah, age 2
"Last July, our Micah had just turned one and when you have Cystic Fibrosis, turning one often means you are ready for a vest to help loosen mucous in your lungs, which in turn should help you stay healthier. Prior to being able to wear his vest, my husband and I would spend time manually trying to remove mucous from Micah's lungs via a small percussion tool. That's where you come in! Thanks to your Foundation and your generous grant money, Micah was able to get this piece of equipment which has provided more independence on his part and has done a much better job of clearing mucous from his lungs. In fact, he has not been on any antibiotics since receiving his vest. We cannot thank you enough. We will certainly be giving back to the UnitedHealthcare Children's Foundation in the future to help other families improve the health and well-being of their children.
Micah (now age two), is still reaping the benefits of the vest you helped to provide one year ago. Thank you again!"
- Micah's parents, 2016 grant recipient, Virginia