“My ride didn’t show up.” Dr. Wendy Williams hears it all the time. Missed and canceled appointments are all too common in her part of the world. Or sometimes Mom will show up at the wrong time, pleading “can you please see us now because I can’t afford the gas to come back.” If folks in the Mississippi Gulf Coast are having trouble staying healthy, transportation – or lack of it – is a big reason.
GOING TO PATIENTS WHO CAN'T MAKE IT TO THE DOCTOR
With little reliable public transportation in the region, Dr. Williams and her team spend a lot of time traveling across three counties to deliver much needed health care services to a population that suffers from tremendous health challenges in one of America’s most economically challenged states. An especially big problem is referrals. For so many patients, a trip to New Orleans or Mobile to see a specialist is out of the question.
GROWING UP WITH KATRINA
Children’s Health Fund’s Mississippi Gulf Coast Children’s Health project was established in response to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Even before the horrific storm hit, nearly one third of all children in Mississippi lived in poverty. The upheaval caused by the storm hit these kids very hard. Today, many kids who grew up in the wake of Katrina continue to feel the physical and psychological effects of that devastating storm – as well as the destruction caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.
BARRIERS TO CARE ALONG THE COAST
Child health indicators rank Mississippi 50th in the nation. In addition to lack of transportation, pervasive barriers to care include lack of insurance, geographic isolation and financial instability.
The mobile clinic is perfectly suited to overcome these barriers allowing clinical teams to bring services directly where they are needed most, and to respond to the changing conditions and needs of the community.