At first glance, they look like RVs. But a closer look at the two giant trucks reveals the words “Mobile Health Unit” emblazoned on the side.
“The units that we have are basically a clinic-on-wheels. Each mobile unit we have two ‘clinic’ rooms that are just basically like a doctor’s office that you’d go to in a stationary clinic,” said Matthew Hunt, director of WKU’s Institute for Rural Health. “Regardless of location, we can see the patient and that’s a nice thing. We reduce barriers of transportation and take the services directly to the patient.”
The program recently received a $50,000 gift from the Good Samaritan Foundation to be used for supplies and an $8,000 grant from the Kentucky Department of Public Health to continue a program that brings free dental care to hundreds of school children in Allen County.
“It’s very expensive to offer these services to the community. These funding sources will help us purchase much-needed medical supplies such as gloves, flu vaccines and new portable equipment,” said Hunt.
The mobile health units also let WKU students gain real-world experience working with patients.
“One neat part of our program is that we utilize our students. We utilize nursing students, public health students and dental hygiene students to offer these services,” said Hunt. “So, in addition to providing a much-needed service to the community, we also assist in training the future healthcare workforce.”
Hunt says the Institute for Rural Health mainly focuses on South Central Kentucky, but they’ve also started venturing into the eastern part of the state.
“We had one patient that walked six miles to receive our services,” he said. “At the end of the day, it feels very good to know that we’re helping the populations that need the help the most.”