This post is part of NACHC’s monthly Innovation Blog Series hosted by the Center for Community Health Innovation.
Mobile units at health centers are on the rise! The number of Community Health Center units increased 139% from 2015 to 2021.
Mobile clinics help to:
- Bridge gaps in access to quality care
- Build trust with disenfranchised communities by bringing care to where they are
- Attract, inspire, and retain healthcare talent by offering out of clinic experiences
- Create new engagement opportunities and partnerships
- Encourage innovation and community engagement
- Respond post-disaster to impacted areas and/or where clinics may have had damage to their buildings
Building Capacity at the State Level for Health Center Mobile Units
Congress has recognized the unique value of mobile clinics by passing the MOBILE Health Care Act which will allow grant-funded health centers to propose New Access Point (NAP) projects solely for one or more new mobile health units. This change to NAPs will take effect January 1, 2024.
For state and regional Primary Care Associations (PCAs), NACHC is fortunate to have support from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation this year in the form of grants to help PCAs build capacity for the growth and development of mobile units at health centers. View our press release announcing the 10 new awardees of the Leon Lowenstein “State-Level Mobile Unit Capacity Building” grant.
At the Local Level, Health Centers Use Mobile Units to Increase Access to Care and Advance Health Equity
Here are some examples from a grant project completed in 2022 by NACHC, with support from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, that show how some health centers increase access to care for people across the country. Each health center featured in the video was selected based on efforts and lessons learned during their COVID-19 response with mobile units. They exemplify the approaches health centers take that are advancing work toward health equity.
Read these brief innovation spotlights on each of the community health centers featured in the video:
- Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (Massachusetts) – Care-in-Reach unit proved essential to keep patients and staff safe
- Chiricahua Community Health Center (Arizona) – Increasing childhood vaccination rates with the “Big Blue Bus”
- Golden Valley Health Centers (California) – Broader mobile unit partnerships for COVID-19 and beyond
- Kodiak Community Health Center (Alaska) – Converted 4-wheeler trailer used for COVID-19 testing and treatment
- TrueCare (California) – Mobile units outfitted for telehealth, outfitted for the future
- United Neighborhood Health Services (Tennessee) – Mobile unit helps people live as they prefer and achieve the “Memorial Day Miracle”
Starting or expanding a mobile fleet comes with many benefits, including the ones named in the Mobile Health Map and Mobile Healthcare Association’s Business Case for Mobile Health resource.
If your health center has a mobile unit and you have questions, comments, or initiatives to highlight, comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.