Medical clinics amp up service

Mary Atkinson · Thursday, June 13, 2013
Beginning in August, a mobile health clinic from the University of Iowa will provide medical services, such as free, basic health screenings, once a month to the community.

Currently, in West Liberty, the only place people can see a medical doctor is at Mercy Services. But according to a receptionist and appointment scheduler of Mercy Services West Liberty, the clinic has not accepted new patients since at least December of 2012.

Even though MSWL has not accepted new patients for a while, Betty Jensen, the MSWL office manager, feels the U of I mobile clinic may be somewhat redundant.

“Some of the patients go there (to the mobile clinic) and then end up having to see us anyway for a follow-up.” Jensen said.

Lauren Levy, a doctoral student at the University of Iowa, who oversees the U of I mobile clinic, said many people come to the mobile clinic for different reasons. For example, people may not have health insurance or are underinsured.

“Many community members simply cannot afford healthcare,” Levy said. “It is expensive, and even though several employees of local factories technically have health insurance, the costs can be prohibitive.

“There are also many individuals who do not have full-time work and do not qualify for benefits,” she said. “This would include any individual who is undocumented, of course.”

The U of I mobile clinic is funded by grants and fundraisers and is staffed by volunteers. Lab equipment is donated by the U of I. The mobile clinic provided services in West Liberty several times during the most recent spring and fall.

Levy said they saw 120 people for back-to-school check-ups. The other visits ranged between10-20 patients. A pharmacy tech has been added to the mobile clinic to answer questions about medications.

“We are also offering physical therapy services and educational sessions,” she said.

Jensen said MSWL has never turned away a patient due to a a lack of money or insurance.

“We have been accepting patients for ages,” Jensen said. “There was one week in the last couple of months when the providers were all going on vacations and we had a rough spot. But, we are accepting patients and we work with them if they are not insured.”

In July, MSWL will add another doctor to its staff. Christopher C. Schuster is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is completing residency in family medicine.

Levy said she believes it is good MSWL is adding another provider but hopes communication and collaboration between the two clinics will increase.

Both Levy and Jensen agreed a social worker or someone aware of available resources should be available to the community. Also, they agreed public communication is the key to informing community members of available health services.
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