HSC Pediatric Mobile Clinic: Vaccinations & Beyond
The HSC Pediatric Mobile Clinic is preparing to roll out its summer programming across DFW. With a full-sized van equipped with everything a provider needs for well-child visits, acute visits and vaccinations, this mobile care center travels all over the Tarrant County area to provide meaningful care for uninsured or low-income families.
Pediatric Mobile Clinic nurse Connie Smith estimates that about 75% of patients visiting the mobile clinic receive vaccinations, especially those who need to be up-to-date on shots before the school year begins.
“To be able to go to public school, kids have to be up to date on their immunizations, otherwise those children fall through the gaps,” Smith said. “Usually, we’ll see the same families again once they realize we offer other services and we’re not going to charge anything.”
Smith said that other local health care organizations may charge a small administrative fee to provide basic shots. That can become cost prohibitive for a big family with children who each need multiple shots.
“You could be talking about half the rent for the month,” Smith said. “Do you choose to not have a place to sleep so they can go to school? Or do you choose then not to go to school and to have a roof over their heads? That’s why we’re dedicated to providing care without an administration fee.”
Smith relayed the story of a new mom who was uncomfortable with vaccinating her children. Instead of pressuring her to follow the schedule, Smith says she listened and sought to understand before offering advice.
“I handed her some articles and asked her to look at them,” she said. “I wasn’t saying to believe them, but to research this for herself to her comfort level and then the next time her child needs to come in, we can talk about this again. Now she has three beautiful daughters who are 100% caught up on their vaccinations.”
Smith says this was only possible because of the relationship of trust and mutual respect she and the mother were able to build over the past five years.
“It turns out, she just wanted somebody to hear her side of things and needed credible sources to be able to make her own decision.”
Smith also said she has seen cases where high school seniors have earned a full ride to college but don’t have access or financial resources to get a second meningitis shot to be eligible for enrollment in school.
“In the spring, we do a lot of meningitis clinic so that we can get those kids their vaccines,” Smith said. “And if you went to Walgreens, that might be $150-$200. That’s an easy barrier to help them overcome that could change the trajectory of a life.”
In addition to vaccinations to prepare for the school year, the Pediatric Mobile Clinic will visit summer school locations, Boys & Girls clubs, various YMCA locations, churches, and community centers to provide physicals, acute care, well-child exams, and more.