New mobile health clinic trying to increase access to health services in our hometowns

Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 6:53 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Accessing health care can be a challenge for some. Roanoke and Alleghany Health Districts is trying to change that.

DASH, short for “Delivering Accessible and Sustainable Health,” is the name of a new mobile health clinic.

Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts communications officer Christie Wills says the RV truck will allow them to expand public health outreach.

“We are doing health education, we’re doing community outreach, we’re doing immunizations, we’ll be doing screenings,” said Wills.

Federal COVID-19 relief funding was used to purchase the new vehicle in 2020, but supply chain issues pushed the launch of the program until the summer.

“If there is one thing the pandemic made clear is that we needed to be mobile to be able to deliver services,” explained Wills. “We want to reduce the boundaries that exist for residents to be able to access public health.”

And that is what it did for Salem residents Thursday morning. DASH allowed the health department to vaccinate 50 residents in 2 hours. Half of them were walk-ins, such as Nick Dunaway.

“I just wanted to make sure that we stay as protected and be as cautious as we can within reason and part of that is staying vaccinated,” said Dunaway.

Dunaway and his wife have three young children. Being able to travel less than 5 minutes to get a COVID vaccine made it convenient for them as parents. They were in and out in less than 15 minutes.

“You know if you wanna get the shot, come down here get the shot. It’s just being able to provide equal access for everybody,” added Dunaway.

Salem resident Jennifer Nelson walked three blocks from her house to get a vaccine. Nelson says having the visibility could encourage others to also get vaccinated.

“Having things happen around you in public where there’s a lot of traffic around here,” said Nelson. “I think just seeing it and seeing other people doing it is always a good thing.”

The health department is hoping to use DASH to help during public emergencies.

“We could dispatch DASH to go out and be in the community after a flood or any kind of natural disaster. And so we are very thrilled to be able to have it,” said Wills.

The mobile clinic will be in Vinton’s Public Library Tuesday, October 18. Click here for more information.