Going the Extra Mile To Provide Community-based Care
As the sun comes up on a brisk Tuesday morning, Bon Secours Richmond Health System’s Care-A-Van rolls into the St. Augustine Catholic Church parking lot located just outside of Richmond, Virginia. Clinic staff members unload the large blue and green van and begin transforming the church into a mobile health clinic for local patients—using the gym as the waiting room and Sunday school classrooms for health exams. The staff bustle around as patients line up, all in time for a prompt 8:30 a.m. start.
The Care-A-Van will make more than 20 similar stops this month, visiting patients at several different churches throughout the Richmond area. Although not your typical health clinic, the Care-A-Van program in Richmond conducts more than 12,500 patient visits a year. Not only that, but the mobile clinic gives uninsured patients access to culturally competent care six days a week, right in their communities.
The van is run in partnership with St. Joseph’s Outreach Clinic, a tiny primary care practice operated by Bon Secours Richmond Health System, a larger faith-based health system in Virginia. The programs are part of the Mission Services department at Bon Secours Richmond. St. Joseph’s only has capacity for around 6,900 patient visits a year in the clinic, making their mobile outreach even more crucial. Together, the clinic and the Care-A-Van share the same staff and operate with the mission to provide accessible care to their community.
"As a Catholic health care system, we have a commitment to serve vulnerable populations," shares Mrs. Julie Call, the practice administrator at the Care-A-Van and St. Joseph’s. "We’re proud to serve a diverse patient population and provide the outreach van as a community benefit."
Dr. Janet Eddy, the clinic’s medical director, has spent almost 30 years working with underinsured populations, and the clinic staff follow her lead. "She’s known in our community as an advocate for underserved patients," says Julie. A priority for the team is to keep patients informed about the care they receive through visit summaries tailored to patients’ literacy levels and easy-to-understand visual materials on care management. The Care-A-Van and St. Joseph’s have two dedicated nurse navigators who work with high-risk patients by phone to coordinate care.
Over the years, the Mission Services team has seen an increase in demand for its services. This has challenged the staff to be innovative every day in order to keep true to their promise of providing the best care to patients. From hitting the road in the Care-A-Van, to working hard to cultivate a diverse and dedicated staff, the team strives to continue providing top-quality care to people in their community.
This story is courtesy of Heart of Virginia Healthcare, the EvidenceNOW Virginia Cooperative.