In the midst of Missouri, lies a community known as Joplin that’s weathered storms and hardships. When adversity strikes, this community unites to rise together. However, certain challenges and struggles have marked their journey.
The town faced a huge setback in 2011 when a devastating tornado ripped through and caused widespread destruction. This calamity resulted in an 80% loss of medical infrastructure. That included two schools and a significant impact on the general infrastructure. It also resulted in the tragic loss of 162 lives with 18 tornado-related suicides in the following months.
Fortunately, there’s an organization in Joplin with a commitment to providing healthcare to people who don’t have reliable access to it.
What is the Community Clinic of Southwest Missouri?
Three decades ago, Stephanie Brady, the Executive Director of the Community Clinic of Southwest Missouri, founded the organization with a profound dedication to providing healthcare to individuals without access to essential services.
It began in a building at the Presbyterian Church in downtown Joplin. A group of caring doctors saw the need for healthcare, dental care, and mental health care for those without insurance. They wanted to provide essential care for people who really needed it.
As the organization expanded, it hired a small team, gradually growing to include:
- A nurse practitioner
- Two nurses
- Medical assistant
- Additional administrative staff
A large number of volunteers dedicate their time, skills, and resources daily to ensure top-quality care for the patients.
During our interview with Stephanie Brady, she stated:
“On an annual basis, we serve over 2,000 unduplicated patients and that equates to about 10,000 individual visits for our patients and our patients are 100% uninsured. They are people who are the working poor, they are struggling to make ends meet, they are not eligible for Medicaid because they make too much money and they can’t really afford marketplace insurance.”
The clinic’s impact in the aftermath of the 2011 tornado
When the tornado struck, the clinic faced an urgent need to help the community. They provided immediate care, offering tetanus shots and assisting those with minor injuries. With local hospitals overwhelmed, the clinic stepped in to aid individuals with cuts, scrapes, and emotional stress.
FEMA‘s grim forecast anticipated a 25% loss in population and infrastructure. However, the resilient community rallied, losing only 2% of its people. The clinic’s focus shifted to rebuilding better, not just to the pre-tornado status. They initiated programs to support those with lower incomes. This support aided them through and beyond the tornado’s aftermath. The aim was to help these individuals not just survive but thrive despite the adversity.
Butterflies are visible in the community’s businesses and parks, and they symbolize resilience and unity. They represent remarkable stories that emerged after the tornado. Children, reporting miraculous encounters with “winged saviors,” attributed the butterfly as their rescuer. This widespread belief in butterflies as a saving symbol stands as a poignant reminder of the community’s resilience and triumph over adversity.
The Community Clinic of Southwest Missouri’s road to a mobile healthcare clinic
The Community Clinic of Southwest Missouri always felt the need for a mobile clinic. Unfortunately, affording one was a challenge because of their tight budget. Around four years ago, they set a goal to make getting a mobile clinic a reality.
This year, a blessing came through a partnership with the city of Joplin through a community grant. Stephanie highlighted the importance of the mobile clinic van for the people living in and around Joplin:
“We wanted to provide more care to those people in rural communities. We have people who are trying to get to the community clinic, but it could be an hour to two-hour drive for them to get here. So with the mobile unit, we really are focusing on those rural communities and being able to take medical care to them.”
The mobile medical unit isn’t just for driving around; it’s a lifeline to many communities. In places like rural McDonald County, they offer services like breast exams for women. In some of the southeastern Kansas counties, they make sure patients get the necessary vaccines.
They’re providing full primary care and offering a sense of security to families. What’s more, they’re teaming up with the medical school and working with volunteers to bring essential care and valuable resources right to the heart of these communities.
What’s in the Community Clinic of Southwest Missouri’s mobile clinic?
The Community Clinic of Southwest Missouri customized its mobile clinic to meet specific needs. Some of the key features include:
Refrigerator: The mobile clinic is equipped with a refrigerator, ensuring the storage of temperature-sensitive medical supplies and vaccines.
Sink with running water: There’s a sink with running water inside the mobile clinic. This helps with keeping things clean and is useful for medical tasks.
Electricity to the back: The clinic has a power supply extending to the back, enabling the use of medical equipment and devices.
Desk and storage: There’s a desk for administrative tasks and ample storage space for organizing clinic essentials.
In addition, setting up the clinic is a straightforward process. The staff only needs to plug in testing equipment and fill the bins, streamlining preparation for clinic operations.
Why did the community Clinic of Southwest Missouri choose AVAN Mobility for its mobile healthcare unit?
Stephanie mentioned that the cost of the Mobile Clinic Van from our team at AVAN Mobility was better than other offers, and highlighted that we were going to make it just the way they wanted. At AVAN Mobility, we do our best to tailor and customize the vehicle to your needs. Stephanie also had more to say:
“We were able to work with Walter and Simon at AVAN and they were able to provide us with guidance on how to develop exactly what we wanted in that vehicle. They listened to us and they listened to our needs and it really did prove to us that they were the company to go with. It’s amazing how all of the things that you would need in a regular exam room are there.”
“You know we’re able to have a refrigerator, a sink with running water, electricity to the back. We even have a desk in there, lots of storage. We’re able to provide all of the things that we need to run an actual clinic we have there. All we had to do was go in and plug in our testing equipment and fill the bins and we’re ready to go.”
What’s the impact of the mobile healthcare van in Missouri?
Stephanie stated that the new mobile healthcare vehicle is a game-changer for their community clinic. It’s going to help them reach so many more people. When you bring healthcare directly to individuals, they’re more likely to get the care they need. This is especially important in rural areas where many people lack transportation to their fixed clinic location.
Sometimes, people don’t even realize how important medical care is. But when you take it to them, it removes the challenges they face in receiving it. Some of these challenges are transportation, living too far from a clinic, and mobility issues. Stephanie assured that everyone who needs care gets it. Our numbers will grow, we’ll collaborate more, and our services will expand to help even more people. She concluded by saying:
“We’re going to expand our numbers, we’re going to expand our collaborations, and we’re going to be able to expand our services.”
Make a difference today with mobile healthcare vehicles
In this case study, you learned how the Community Clinic of Southwest Missouri started off providing healthcare to people around the community. You also learned about how they acquired a mobile medical vehicle to start providing mobile healthcare to rural communities in southwest Missouri and southeast Kansas.
If your organization is in search of a mobile medical vehicle to address your community’s needs, we’re here to help. Much like the impactful work of the Community Clinic of Southwest Missouri, you too can make a substantial difference in people’s lives with one of these vehicles. Don’t hesitate to reach out; together, we can extend vital healthcare to those who need it most.
You should take a look at our article on the 10 steps to starting a mobile medical clinic in the U.S. if you’re just learning about these vehicles.
In addition, if you’re further along the process and know you want a mobile medical vehicle but are not sure how you’ll get the funding, read our article on the top 6 ways to apply for mobile health grants.