The Oklahoma State Department of Health is mobilizing a fleet of wellness units and vans to help provide public health services in every corner of the state. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated and expanded this initiative, allowing it to reach underserved communities with vital services, including the COVID-19 vaccine.
“More than ever, we recognize the barriers many Oklahomans face with transportation, time, and technology when it comes to seeking public health services,” Dr. Lance Frye, commissioner of health, said. “By mobilizing public health services, we can reduce or remove some of the major barriers that create health disparities in our communities. We can be where the people are, wherever and whenever we need to be.”
Mobile Wellness Units — purchased with COVID relief funding — are being delivered to all nine of Oklahoma’s Public Health Districts. Each mobile unit consists of a fifth wheel travel trailer pulled by an extended cab dually RAM pickup truck, and two vans.
The trailers are equipped to facilitate full clinic services for women’s exams, well-checks, and other public health programs. There is a built-in reception area, generator, satellite dish, and wheelchair lift among other features. The vans are designed for less invasive medical visits and to facilitate other public health programs.
The final two trailers are expected to arrive as early as next week. The vans have been in operation since December, playing a vital role in vaccine response and helping deploy Oklahoma National Guard strike teams and other community-based clinics.
“Mobile units have proven to be an effective method of reaching people where they live, work, and play,” Assistant Deputy Commissioner Mendy Spohn said. “Deployment of these mobile units allow public health services to be provided in a wide variety of settings, including neighborhoods, community events, and festivals. We have already started using them for sports physicals in areas where it is difficult for student athletes to get them, and are currently planning ways to expand the scope of services to include chronic health screenings and well-checks.”
OSDH is also seeking partnerships with other health care organizations to better provide health services to underserved populations. The mobile units will remain with each district and can be deployed across the state as needed.