Health Care on Wheels
The NYU College of Nursing mobile health van project, “Feeling Good in Your neighborhood,” fills a critical gap by bringing school-based primary care to Brooklyn adolescents, many of whom are recent immigrants who have unmet health-care needs.
The mobile health van, a 40-foot vehicle with two exam rooms, was launched in 2008 but received a hearty boost of support in 2010 with a $2.9 million five-year grant to Judith Haber, Ph.D. ’84, MA ’67, APRN, BC, FAAN, from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at the International High School of Prospect Heights and the Brooklyn School for Music and Theater. The van also visits the Brooklyn International High School and Urban Assembly of Music and Arts in Fort Greene. This fall primary care services will be extended to six additional sites to increase access to a primary care safety net for approximately 13,000 students over the five years of the grant. A social worker, Audrey Neff, MSW, addresses patients’ psychosocial issues and enrolls eligible students in Medicaid and other health plans.
The “Feeling Good” project was created by Dr. Haber, who is the Ursula Springer Leadership Professor in Nursing and Interim Dean of the NYU College of Nursing, and is directed by Edwidge J. Thomas, DNP, MS, ANP-BC, director of clinical practice affairs. It is staffed by Vicky Albit, MS, PNP-BC, director of clinical services, and Elizabeth Jones, BS ’06, RN, nurse coordinator. Parent coordinators in the schools serve as liaisons between student families and van staff.
Dr. Thomas says, “The motto of the mobile van is ‘Set Up, Catch Up, Hook Up,’ a slogan that refers to taking a student’s medical history to assess each student’s health care gaps and setting health care priorities, catching up on outstanding health needs, and linking students to services such as insurance enrollment, connection to a primary care medical home, and referrals to community resources.” The mobile health van’s nursing staff was recently approved by the Department of Health to provide reproductive health services and education, an important clinical service to decrease risk for pregnancy and prevalence of STDs such as HIV and Chalmydia.
Because many of the students at the high schools we serve are in the country for four years or less, their knowledge about health promotion, illness prevention and how to access primary care in the U.S health care system is often limited. Helping students build health literacy — including understanding their health care rights — is a goal of the mobile health van program. As adolescents, all students have a critical need for age- and culturally appropriate health literacy programs to enhance their knowledge (how to understand health information), skills (how to access health care benefits and choose a health care provider, and inspire positive attitudes (interest in health information and risk reduction) and promote self-advocacy in modifying health risk behaviors, effective management of chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes, and effectively navigating the health-care system. The mobile health van also provides clinical practicum experiences for undergraduate and graduate nursing students, who develop their primary care and community nursing competencies by working with young people from diverse cultures. #
Judith Haber is the Interim Dean and Ursula Springer Leadership Professor in Nursing at New York University College of Nursing.