Pediatric Mobile Clinic continues to bridge barriers to healthcare

By Steven Bartolotta

Precep Web

It was a frigid morning in the parking lot of W.J. Turner Elementary School when a mother went knocking on a door of an RV parked at the school.

She was looking for help for her 6-year-old son, who has been battling a nasty strain of strep throat. And she found it at the UNT Health Science Center Pediatric Mobile Clinic.

Once inside, Christina Robinson, MD, and third-year Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine student Alfred Abraham identified what was ailing the youngster. They got him the right medication, handed him a few Paw Patrol stickers for the road, and he was on his way to recovery.

The youngster is one of thousands of children the Pediatric Mobile Clinic has seen as it enters its fifth-year of service to the Fort Worth community.

“Our city is changing, and sometimes there are barriers that prevent people from getting access to our healthcare system, and that’s what the pediatric mobile clinic is there for,” said Dr. Robinson, the clinic’s Medical Director. “We want to provide care for patients ranging in age from infants to 18 who have Medicaid but trouble getting access.”

The mobile concept isn’t new. It has been around globally for decades, but started in the United States in the 1950s and ‘60s when Harvard University first began a mobile health clinic in Cambridge and surrounding areas. As larger cities began to see the benefits, more mobile clinics were deployed.

“With the growth and development in the city of Fort Worth, we felt like this could be a safety net for kids,” Dr. Robinson said.

The clinic is quite active. Every Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., it is out in the community providing care to those who need it but otherwise wouldn’t get access.

Dr. Robinson estimates that on a regular day, the clinic will serve between eight and 10 children. But number reaches 15-20 on busier days, and for specialty clinics it can climb as high as 75.Doc

In the last 12 months, the clinic has had 1,571 medical visits and administered over 3,000 vaccinations.

The barriers that can prevent people from receiving care are numerous, ranging from lack of transportation to no insurance. are numerous. The Pediatric Mobile Clinic works with day care centers, churches, libraries and other community partners to get the word out about the clinic and the services it provides.

The clinic also provides a key training element to TCOM students who are on rotation. Abraham was spending a portion of his pediatric rotation in the RV learning, but also gaining valuable hands-on experience.

“I am extremely thankful for my time on the Pediatric Mobile Clinic,” he said. “I was able to see how we as providers could meet the practical needs of patients experiencing barriers to healthcare access by taking a practical step ourselves—meeting them where they’re at.”

With the clinic bustling four days a week at different sites throughout the city, the mission and goals from the beginning have never changed.

“There is never a dull moment,” Dr. Robinson said. “The families are always so grateful for what we do, and it just makes me so glad that I chose pediatrics because it’s so rewarding to help the children and that’s what this clinic is doing.”

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