The Edmonds Mobile Medical Clinic, which has been offering free basic health care services biweekly to those without insurance, will begin operating on a weekly basis beginning March 20. Under the non-profit charitable organization Puget Sound Christian Clinic and with support from the Verdant Health Commission, the program’s mobile medical clinic truck, “HOPE,” will be at the Edmonds United Methodist Church (EUMC) on Tuesdays from 8-11:30 a.m.
To celebrate the program, a commissioning service will be held at the church, located at 828 Caspers St., on Sunday, March 11 during services at 9 and 10:30 a.m. HOPE will be open for tours before and after both services. Everyone is welcome to attend and learn more about this program.
The Puget Sound Christian Clinic provides the professional infrastructure that complies with all State of Washington requirements for operating a medical clinic. It also provides the actual 40-foot clinic truck, with the goal of eventually operating in 10 locations throughout Puget Sound. EUMC, in cooperation with several other local churches, provides volunteer coordination and support and also serves as the Edmonds location.
Site coordinator for the Edmonds clinic is Lynn Heitritter, a registered nurse and EUMC member who was inspired to volunteer after the church pastor sent an email a year ago “stating that there was great enthusiasm for a mobile clinic outreach but that someone was needed to step forward (to feel called) to champion the cause, make it theirs and bring it to fruition.”
“I read that email and it immediately grasped my heart,” Heitritter said. “I went into the other room where my husband had just read the same email, and he said, “This sounds just like you! And I am behind you 100 percent!”
A May 2011 a kick-off event marked the beginning of the mobile clinic outreach. Lynn and Ron began the task of recruiting medical providers, nurses, patient schedulers, receptionists, truck drivers with commercial CDL class B licenses, care support volunteers, licensed case managers, a catering team for providing food during volunteer clinic shifts and bilingual interpreters. Once volunteers were in place, training commenced to build a team from this diversified volunteer staff.
Lynn and Ron, a retired 747 commercial airline pilot, have a passion for helping those less fortunate, spending several years performing service work in Africa. “Upon retirement in 2002, we served with a non-profit disaster relief NGO (non governmental organization) in West Africa where he flew small planes into refugee camps,” Heitritter wrote in an email. “In five subsequent years, we spent six months at a time in South Africa, caring for abandoned infants, many with HIV/AIDS.”
“With my nursing background, and my graduate work in Family Social Science, this type of community service is a perfect fit,” Lynn added. “My husband and I have committed ourselves to this ministry for the long term.”
The Edmonds Mobile Medical Clinic is designed to meet basic health needs of lower-income, uninsured neighbors. Free care is currently provided for patients from the Edmonds, Lynnwood, Shoreline and Everett communities. Patients are served by appointment only and can call the mobile clinic appointment line at 425-298-3774 to schedule an appointment:
The mobile clinic serves adults only, and is currently treating patients ranging in age from early 20s to late 60s; nearly three-quarters of clinic patients are female. Medical treatment plans are addressing health concerns such as hypertension, diabetes, upper respiratory infections, thyroid dysfunction and coronary artery disease among other medical issues.
The first languages of patients are diverse, including English, Arabic, Spanish, Mongolian and Russian. In nearly all cases, the clinic provides interpreter services from native speakers who volunteer their professional services to enhance patients’ ability to explain their concerns and to enable the clinic’s medical providers to better communicate treatment plans.
Six local churches are currently partnering with EUMC, each providing $100 per month toward the minimum funding required to bring HOPE to Edmonds. Several more faith community partners are needed to ensure financial sustainability, and medical volunteers are also needed. Since November, 2011, the Edmonds mobile medical clinic has been staffed by five dedicated medical providers. The planned expansion means they need more volunteers for the medical team, including English, Spanish, Russian and Arabic-speaking medical providers and nurses. The Verdant Health Commission is providing $75,000 per year for two years to support the mobile clinic’s expanded operations, but additional donations are also needed.
Minimum requirements for clinic volunteers include a negative TB test, Hepatitis B immunizations, personal interview, training in HIPAA patient privacy laws and blood borne pathogens, personal references, criminal background checks, and mastery of the mobile clinic’s electronic medical records computer program.
Nursing staff and medical providers have additional requirements, such as current licensure, current CPR certification, and acquiring malpractice insurance from Washington state – provided at no cost for those who volunteer to provide health care for low-income, under-served patients. This state-provided malpractice insurance is a crucial component that enables health care workers to volunteer their skills.
Over 40 volunteers have completed the application process required by both PSCC and the State of Washington to be in compliance with a fully operational medical clinic.
So far, volunteers who have joined the medical clinic team are from several communities, including Edmonds, Shoreline, Mukilteo, Lynnwood, Brier, Mill Creek, Camano Island and Federal Way.
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