Hitting the road: Southwest Medical’s on-the-go mobile medical center

Many Nevadans have significant challenges accessing health care. The number of primary care physicians in Nevada has not kept pace with the state’s growing population. In fact, Nevada has one of the lowest number of doctors per capita in the country and an increasing demand for health care services. And even getting to clinics can be difficult for many people, especially in the Medicaid population.

Health Plan of Nevada and Southwest Medical Associates, a part of OptumCare, have partnered to design and commission a customized mobile medical center to bring health care directly to residents in Nevada. This will lower barriers to health care — such as transportation, child care, work obligations and the low number of primary care physicians in Nevada — that often put even routine checkups out of reach.

The “Medicine on the Move” vehicle is a 45-foot-long mobile medical center. Furnished with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and designed to have a look and feelPatient in Mobile Medical Unit similar to traditional Southwest Medical health care centers, patients can use Medicine on the Move to obtain a wide range of health care services, such as pediatric or primary care visits, wellness checks, annual OB/GYN exams, immunizations, mammography, ultrasounds, x-rays, Medicare annual physicals, sport physicals and basic laboratory tests.

Robert McBeath, M.D., president and CEO of Southwest Medical and Don Giancursio, CEO of UnitedHealthcare in Nevada worked together to bring the concept to completion.

“Reliable transportation, child care or the many other daily life challenges shouldn’t be a barrier to quality health care,” said McBeath. “Many patients struggle to get to a health care provider, so we’re taking the health care provider to them. It’s a convenient option for Nevadans who want easier access to health care care closer to where they live and work.”

“Access to quality primary and preventive care is essential for people to maintain good health and quality of life,” said Giancursio. “Bringing quality health care to the people in our communities is what this program is all about.”

Through this partnership, the mobile medical center travels to to community centers, schools, charities, homeless shelters and churches to reach Medicaid members and others who need health care services, as well as other organizations where patients and health plan members may not have easy access to medical care.

So far this year, Medicine on the Move has partnered with several Southern Nevada charitable organizations, such as the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, Family Connect and St. Joseph Catholic Church Food Pantry.

It also made a visit to Reno earlier this year and partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows/Reno and Volunteers of America Homeless Shelter.

Medicine on the Move features two examination rooms, a laboratory for urinalysis and blood tests, a radiology lab, a lobby, restroom and a wheelchair lift. Medicine on the Move has the only digital mammography unit in the country on a mobile medical center that provides care to patients, as well as offering radiology exams.

The vehicle is staffed by one or two physicians or health care providers, two licensed practical nurses, two medical assistants and a radiology technician, as well as a driver and setup crew.

To view a calendar of the mobile clinic’s future locations, visit To schedule an appointment, call 800-382-0870.

St. David’s Giant Smile Tour

The Biggest Smile in Texas begins its travels around Austin to celebrate Smile Week, February 11-14, and the 15th Anniversary of St. David’s Dental Program in three new Mobile Dental Vehicles constructed on the state-of-the-art Lonestar platform available only from Mobile Specialty Vehicles.

St. David's Mobile Dental Unit

Following the kick off celebration, a Foundation dental van toting the Big Smile departed from Long Center to begin its travel to popular locations across Travis, Williamson and Hays counties. Along the way, staff will be giving away 15,000 toothbrushes to promote the importance of keeping teeth healthy and bright. Visitors are invited to pose for photos with the Big Smile.

St. David’s is encouraging people to find the dental van and flash their pearly whites, then post their photo to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #SmileWeekATX. Participants will have a chance to win two tickets to Austin City Limits Music Festival 2014.

A leader in the field of mobile dental health, St. David’s Dental Program offers free dental care to low-income schools and social service agencies across central Texas. In addition, the Healthy Smiles program provides grants to community-based dental clinics and programs.

St. David’s Brings Smiles to Children

With one of the largest fleets of mobile dental clinics in the country, St. David’s Dental Program offers free dental screenings, sealants and acute care to children at Title I elementary schools across six school districts in Central Texas, as well as to adults referred by area safety net clinics and the Health Alliance of Austin Musicians (HAAM).

Each of the six vans is equipped with two dental exam rooms, digital x-rays, and computer workstations. The vans are staffed by licensed dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants.

St. David's Mobile Dental VehiclesThe St. David’s Dental Program has a fleet of six mobile dental vans which travel to Title I schools in six Central Texas school districts throughout the school year. The basic concept behind the mobile dental program is to bring dental care to kids who can’t get to it. Seeing a dentist is often challenging for some families as the parents may not be able to take off work to take their kids to a dentist. Transportation to a dentist’s office can also be a challenge for those who rely on public transportation, especially if there are other children at home who have to come along. By coming to schools and treating kids, we are able to treat kids who might otherwise miss a day of school because of a toothache.

The vans are outfitted with state of the art dental equipment and house two dental exam spaces, so that one dentist can work on two patients simultaneously. The vans are staffed by professional dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants, all of whom work for St. David’s Foundation and have chosen to be in public health because they are committed to making a difference.

In advance of the dental program’s arrival at a school, our dental team conducts screenings where one of the dentists takes a quick look into each child’s mouth and determines which kids need to be seen on the vans.

St. David's Interior Mobile DentalWhen we arrive on campus, the dental assistants gather the kids in small groups of about four to five at a time and bring them on the vans. The kids get x-rays and see the dentist for an exam. While the kids are waiting their turn, our staff shows them how to properly brush their teeth. Some patients may be scheduled for multiple visits depending on what issues the dentist needs to address. They all take home toothbrushes and toothpaste.

The dental teams on the vans are experienced in working with children. Many of the kids are seeing a dentist for the first time. Some are apprehensive and nervous, and our staff works patiently to gain their trust. Once that trust is earned on the vans, sometimes we are able to help kids with more than we anticipated.

Here is a story told by one of our dentists, Dr. Ensy Atarod, about a boy who was nervous about seeing the dentist, yet had many dental issues that needed to be addressed:

The first time we saw our patient, a nine year old boy, he had rampant decay throughout his mouth. During this visit, he was nervous and would not cooperate for treatment. He wiggled a lot in the dental chair, put his hands over his mouth, and cried. We were not able to take care of any of his decay issues during his first visit.

We got in touch with his mother and let her know that he had quite a few cavities that needed to be addressed, and also let her know that he was too frightened to let us help him. His mom assured us she would seek treatment for him.

A year later, we saw the same boy, now 10, on the dental van at another school. He remembered us and his visit to the van last year. He still had all the previous cavities, but they were now deeper. In addition, he had new cavities.

He was still very apprehensive of dental treatment. We slowly walked him through what we were going to do. We started by working with him to increase his tooth St. David's Happy Childrebrushing skills. During his first visit, he cried during the cleaning, but we were able to complete it. We saw him on the van four more times, and each visit we were able to gain a little more of his trust. Eventually, we were able to place fillings in his teeth. Some of the fillings were so deep they extended into the nerve of his teeth.

During the last visit, we had gained so much of his trust that he shared with us more about what was going on in his life. He told us that he was very unhappy with his life, that he didn’t like the kids in his new class because they were mean to him, and that he wished he was back at his previous school. We were able to relay this information to with his school counselor and teachers, who were not aware any of this had been going on. They were able to help him get some counseling. On his last visit on the van, he gave all everyone on the team great big hugs, which were repeated whenever we saw him in the hallways.

“It’s a great feeling to make a difference.” – Ensy Atarod, DDS

Permian Regional Medical Center

Permian Regional Medical Center is a 50-bed critical access hospital in Andrews, Texas, serving thousands of people living in small towns across West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico, but many hospital visitors travel 45 miles or more to reach the facility. For some, this distance posed an obstacle to receiving regular check-ups and proper preventive care. To solve this problem, Permian Regional made the bold and innovative decision to purchase a 37-foot mobile medical vehicle from Jasper, Texas-based Mobile Specialty Vehicles.

“In 2008 we surveyed business and community leaders in small towns across the region, and the overwhelming and unanimous response was that people needed regular access to health care, and didn’t want to drive an hour to get it,” said Tasa Watts, director of marketing for Permian Regional.

The mobile medical vehicle will be staffed by a licensed vocational nurse and a nurse practitioner with a rotating team of physicians. Five days per week, the vehicle will drive to communities 45 miles in any direction to provide gynecological care, pediatric care, geriatric care and basic medical exams. The vehicle is outfitted with two exam rooms, a lab and a small waiting room. Watts anticipates the clinic could eventually provide medical care to 50 to 100 patients each week.

“Our mobile medical vehicles extend the reach of hospitals, providing essential services, especially preventive medical care,” said Glen Henderson, president and chief executive officer of Mobile Specialty Vehicles. “These vehicles fill a critical role in the continuum of care the hospitals provide to their surrounding communities.”

Mobile Specialty Vehicles is the premier producer of commercial specialty vehicles. Each vehicle is built from the ground up and made for a lifetime of service. Mobile Specialty Vehicles provides vehicles for all uses, but specializes in: mobile command or communications centers, EOD, SWAT, mobile health care vehicles, blood mobiles, mobile mammography, PET, CT and mobile dental vehicles.

Stockton PD Command Trailer

Stockton PD Command TrailerMobile Specialty Vehicles delivers a new command trailer to the Stockton (California) Police Department. The trailer is a 40-foot goose-neck attached to an International truck with a 10-foot shell. The truck is equipped with seating and workstations for four personnel for hostage negotiations functions.

The trailer is equipped with a forward conference room with a 6-foot glide room; a center operations room with a 12-foot glide room; two interior 32-inch LCD screens; a 42-inch exterior LCD TV; workstations for eight, each equipped with computers, LCD monitors and ergonomic chairs; and two 19-inch computer/radio racks. It has a Pelco high-resolution camera system with LCD screen and a Will-Burt pneumatic mast.