Lewisburg hospital busing health care to communities in need

KATELYN HIBBARD/Sun-Gazette The mobile health bus sits in front of Evangelical Community Hospital.

LEWISBURG — With the goal of better serving the especially remote communities of an eight-county area, Evangelical Community Hospital, has unveiled one of only a hand full of mobile health units in the state.

Mobile Health of Evangelical is a 38-foot-long bus that will travel across Centre, Clinton, Juniata, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties to provide cardiology and women’s health services to rural communities.

Along with those specialized health care options, folks also can stop in for physical exams, comprehensive health screenings and wellness education outreach.

“Something like this was needed,” said Jamie Caputo, mobile medical unit coordinator. “Barriers to care, especially lack of transportation, are a big issue.”

Caputo said that at least one practitioner and two nursing staff members will be available on the bus. There will be at least two primary care and at least two specialty care trips per month.

She said two patients can be seen at once. There is a registration area, a place for blood draws and two exam rooms. Both rooms are equipped with exam chairs suitable for a variety of health exam needs, including women’s health and even dentistry — an option the hospital is looking into for the future.

Sliding doors, curtains and window blinds help maintain the patients’ privacy while adjustable lighting and music volume offers a more comfortable experience, Caputo added.

“You can really make it as comfortable as possible,” she said.

Over the coming years, Caputo said the hospital hopes to add more specialized health options beyond cardiology and women’s health. She said the hospital also hopes to take the bus to schools in order to provide tours and programming for students.

“This is a pretty fluid program,” she said. “We can change as needed.”

Caputo coordinates locations and schedules for mobile health stops, and also frequently drives the bus. She said the stops are meant to be in areas convenient to low-income community members, people with limited transportation and the Amish, Mennonite and other Plain communities.

“For people who have to choose between necessities like food and medical service, a lot of the time, medical service loses out,” Caputo said.

The bus was bought and supplied through donations from community members and area businesses. Over $350,000 was raised for the endeavor, Caputo said.

“It’s a community asset that’s fully supported by the community,” she said.

Recent stops were made at Weaver’s Store in Spring Mills and the Surplus Outlet in Montgomery. Next, the unit will have heart health screenings available from 7 to 10 a.m. Feb. 22 at the Greater Susquehanna Chamber of Commerce in Shamokin Dam.

“These are places people are already going,” Caputo said.

Caputo encouraged folks to make appointments, but said they are not required.

“We love appointments because they help us keep organized,” she said. “But, if someone walks up, we’re not going to turn them away.”

To find out where the bus is going next, call 833-251-0187. More information is available on the hospital’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/evanhospital.