In the age of COVID-19, the importance of mobility and flexibility stands out. That’s just where Vecinos mobile clinic fills the bill. A project started more than two years ago well before COVID-19 was on the radar and launched in August 2020, their mobile clinic is a fully functioning health clinic on wheels. The clinic includes a nurse’s station for taking labs and vitals and conducting patient education; a private exam area; a bathroom; and an outdoor awning-covered area with a TV screen for patient education.
Vecinos serves both migrant (workers who travel from other countries and return home each year) and seasonal (workers who live in our community) farmworkers. Marianne Martinez, executive director of Vecinos Farmworker Health Program, explains that farmworkers labor long hours and can’t readily get to the health department or healthcare providers. “Because of that, we bring the clinic to the workers. We just recently partnered with the health department,” Martinez says. “You can do a lot of things when mobile, such as dental work and blood work, if you have the right infrastructure. This clinic is the right infrastructure.”
Dogwood participated in the set-up of the mobile clinic by providing an ION (Immediate Needs & Opportunities) grant of $17,000 that provided technology in the form of computers, printers, and WiFi hotspots to bring patient data to the clinic electronically and to ensure that patient data remains secure. Martinez says, ”with this new technology, even though an area doesn’t have a great signal or data access, we can provide the same level of care to our migrant workers as to our seasonal workers in our brick and mortar clinic.” She adds, “Patient data security should not be sacrificed, regardless of ability to pay or insurance status.”
The program serves approximately 1,000 patients in nine western North Carolina counties, including Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain, and Transylvania counties. Martinez and the Vecinos team are especially proud of the fact that they offer both medical and mental healthcare in Spanish, not something that many brick and mortar clinics do, let alone mobile clinics.
“With this new technology, even though an area doesn’t have a great signal or data access, we can provide the same level of care to our migrant workers as to our seasonal workers in our brick and mortar clinic.”
Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain, and Transylvania
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Dogwood 2020 Funding: