Many of us remember when doctors made house calls.
Until the 1940s, the majority of physicians visited patients’ homes and most baby boomers probably remember a visit or two before nearly all medical care shifted to hospitals and clinics.
Now, Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg is reviving some of the concepts of those traditional house calls in a really big way — with a doctor’s black bag that is now the size of a bus.
Mobile Health of Evangelical is literally a 38-foot-by-8-foot bus featuring two exam rooms, a blood draw area and space for registration. Donors gave more than $350,000 to fully fund the unit, which will make its maiden voyage tomorrow to Weaver’s Store, along Route 45 in the village of Spring Mills, Centre County.
In the weeks and months ahead, it will visit multiple locations in Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, Union, Clinton, Center, Juniata and Lycoming counties, targeting areas that are rural and those where preventative medicine can make a difference.
The physician, advanced practitioner or both, along with a medical assistant, will see elderly patients just a few steps from their homes or those who have difficulty finding transportation to hospitals and clinics.
Mobile Health addresses a health needs assessment conducted by Evangelical Community Hospital in 2015, a study that identified transportation and cost as two of the greatest barriers for patient care, especially in rural areas.
“By removing transportation and taking health care to them, we’re removing one of those barriers,” said Jamie Caputo, the mobile medical unit coordinator.
Primary care, women’s health and cardiac care will be the focus during Mobile Health’s first year, she said. Schedules and will be posted with the mobile unit generally operating from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Amy Keefer, operations manager for diagnostic imaging services, who worked 10 years with a mobile mammography unit for Evangelical’s Thyra M. Humphreys Center for Breast Health, has witnessed the benefits.
“Anything you can add to the convenience of the patient is wonderful,” she said.
We are guessing that the family doctors who drove from home to home and carried their black bags into the living rooms of their patients would say the same thing.