Custom Made Health Clinics
Mobile units are the sole source of health care in some rural communities and have also demonstrated their value in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and other disasters. Mobile health outreach is cost containment — providing less expensive primary care alternatives than emergency rooms. Mobile health units include remodeled recreational vehicles, trucks, passenger vans or buses, as well as custom-designed vans with one or more exam rooms and a variety of other features. Environment and cost are among the variables dictating the size of vehicles used.
A Texas State flag hangs from a home surrounded by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey in The Woodlands, Texas, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. Estimates for damages caused by Hurricane Harvey are climbing with the storm poised to regain strength in the Gulf of Mexico before crashing back on land. Courtesy, Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
Restoring power is often the first part of any disaster plan after such a storm hits. But as repairs begin and people who have evacuated start to re-enter their homes, the ultimate question, given the harsh reality of water-logged property and the ensuing mold, becomes whether the existing homes can be salvaged or will be habitable in the coming weeks to months.
As a result, delivering medical care to individuals in compromised living quarters ― whether in a flooded home or in a shelter ― presents unique challenges to first responders, as well as doctors and nurses who serve on the front lines.
“The health and emergency response communities of Houston, Galveston and Corpus Christi need to focus on the care of acute injuries and prevention of health crises,” said Maria T. Carney, MD, a former Nassau County health commissioner and the chief of the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, NY. “There will be lots of injuries such as abrasions, cuts, lacerations, sprains, strains and fractures, all of which are easily managed typically, but when access to care is limited, they can easily turn into a health crisis.”
The lack of access to prescription medicine during and after hurricanes remains an ongoing and important issue for those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure, Carney said.
Carney was behind Northwell’s first mobile health unit (MHU) that was launched in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2013, which treated more than 1,ooo people who were displaced by the hurricane. Vaccinations were the most common request among patient care services delivered, with upper respiratory infections (URIs) the most common diagnosis of patients who were treated.
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