SALT LAKE CITY—Nonprofit community health center Fourth Street Clinic introduced Mobile Health Care Thursday, a new approach to reduce barriers to health care for homeless Utahns.
A 45-foot mobile clinic staffed by providers and medical assistants will travel to the new homeless resource centers slated for operation later this year. It will also make its way to other nonprofit agencies throughout the valley for vulnerable individuals unable to travel to the main clinic, which located across from Pioneer Park.
Laura Michalski, CEO of Fourth Street Clinic, says a mobile clinic is an essential part of the transition from a single downtown homeless shelter to three new homeless resource centers located throughout Utah County.
“Access to health care is vital to escaping homelessness,” Michalski said. “We anticipated the need for medical care at the new resource center sites but lacked the bandwidth for a clinic at each one. Mobile Health Care lets us deliver a clinic right to the people who need one most.” Nearly $1 million in funding was awarded by the state last July to build the mobile clinic, with continued operations coming from state funding, donations and grants.
Fourth Street Clinic’s brick and mortar clinic will remain downtown, where more extensive services like dental care and a full-service pharmacy are available. Patients of Mobile Health Care can also get referred to the clinic for more specialty care like gastroenterology or gynecology.
Preston Cochrane, Executive Director of Shelter the Homeless, sees Mobile Health Care as the next step to expanding services for homeless Utahns.
“Fourth Street Clinic’s new mobile medical unit is an innovative intervention that will facilitate direct access to health care by providing a range of service to guests staying at the Resource Centers whose healthcare needs may otherwise go unmet,” Cochrane said. The design of the new resource centers kept Fourth Street’s mobile clinic in mind to streamline the patient intake process. “By delivering the necessary services right to clients’ doorsteps, we can reduce unnecessary emergency room visits and improve quality of life.”
Mobile Health Care is expected to start serving clients at YWCA, First Step House and Housing Connect (formerly the Housing Authority of the County of Salt Lake) later this month before the new resource centers open later this summer.