As Georgia has faced unprecedented challenges over the past year managing the COVID-19 pandemic, all eyes are on healthcare institutions and the efforts they are making to ensure the health and wellbeing of Georgians. One relatively new concept is the idea of mobile health clinics. These new mobile health clinics have been assisting in not only COVID-related matters but also general public health essentials. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Athens Free Clinic served the needs of over five-hundred high-risk patients in the Athens area through mobile health initiatives and has continued to assist those patients, as well as others, in finding free COVID-19 tests.
Mobile Health Clinics in Athens:
One major initiative in the Athens-Clarke County area has been the pilot Mobile Health Clinic (MHC) program. This program was incredibly successful, beyond all reasonable expectations, in its early stages when distributing COVID-19 tests to the general Athens community. As the vaccine continues rolling out in larger numbers and to broader groups in the community, the hope is to have those mobile health units involved with the Athens Mobile Health Clinic program, distributing vaccines to lower-income areas and high-risk areas. In theory, each mobile health clinic operating in a district in Athens could be vaccinating upwards of one-hundred and fifty people per day. With four units working in each district, the number of total vaccinated people through the mobile health clinic could reach upwards of three-thousand people per week.
Mobile Health Clinics in Other Areas:
Across the state of Georgia, many different counties have begun instituting Mobile Health Clinics, including in the Georgia State University area. This program has been reaching students at GSU’s perimeter campuses on a monthly basis and has been focusing on bettering the overall health of students on these campuses. The program has been reaching this goal by offering free and confidential HIV and STI testing for students in the area.
Future of Mobile Health Clinics in Athens:
Because of the overwhelming success of the pilot Mobile Health Clinic Program in distributing COVID-19 tests in the midst of the pandemic, the mobile health units should now be used in vaccine distribution across the state as a whole. Mobile health clinics can potentially be used to ensure the health of some of Athens’ most vulnerable populations by offering preventative screenings, behavioral healthcare, dental care, pediatric care, prenatal care and so much more. These mobile health clinics, when used in this fashion, could potentially save $11.7 billion annually in preventative care and foregone emergency room visits. When used in rural communities, these mobile health clinics offer healthcare in ways which those populations have never had access to, and they have been a huge success in assisting the backbone of our nation, such as Georgia’s farmers, maintain their overall wellbeing and health.
Looking to the Future:
By implementing these mobile health clinics into a vast majority of Georgia neighborhoods and districts, the overall health and wellbeing in these communities will improve. These mobile health clinics have the capacity to not only help Georgia vaccinate individuals and put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic but also institute healthier options and opportunities for those communities which need it most. Mobile health clinics should be a staple of Georgian society and should be an important part moving forward following the COVID-19 pandemic when health is everyone’s top priority.