The Fresno State School of Nursing is expanding its mobile health services to Fresno County communities by incorporating other health disciplines through its Health on Wheels program. With students majoring in nursing, athletic training and dietetics, the mobile unit travels to rural and urban areas of Fresno County providing free health services and education to communities that lack access to health care.
Health on Wheels’ next stop is at the flea market and swap meet from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17, at the Big Fresno Fairgrounds (1121 S. Chance Ave).
The program, managed by student leaders in Fresno State’s California Nursing Students’ Association and Diabetes Coalition, provides students opportunities to work together as a health care team, giving them a pulse on real-world experiences.
“A unique aspect of Health on Wheels is that it incorporates interprofessional education,” said Dr. Kathleen Rindahl, faculty adviser for Health on Wheels and assistant professor in the School of Nursing. “We have students from different majors coming together to serve the community in a health care setting. Not only does this build their cultural competency, but it provides for collaboration and better patient outcomes.”
Free services offered through Health on Wheels include blood pressure screenings, cholesterol and diabetes screenings and information on mental health and lifestyle education.
Students from each health discipline are able to learn by serving, incorporating elements from their own educational backgrounds. Athletic training students take the blood pressure screening and provide useful information regarding exercise and weight loss.
Nursing students, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, administer flu shots, offer health education, and make health assessments and referrals to local clinics and physicians.
Dietetic students provide information on nutrition, diet and healthy meal plans to clients who are diabetic or are tested for high glucose.
“We basically provide preventative care,” said Andrew Schiavello-Youngblood, president of the California Nursing Students’ Association and third-year nursing student. “We catch people who are at risk before they get to the hospital for certain illnesses like hypertension, diabetes or high blood sugar. By getting to them early, we can give them education and hopefully deter them from ending up in the emergency department where it’s already impacted.”
Inside the 64-foot mobile unit are two private exam rooms stocked with necessary supplies one would typically find in a doctor’s office. The mobile unit was originally provided by the Fresno County Office of Education’s Migrant Education Program for the School of Nursing’s Community Health Mobile Unit, which launched in fall 2015.
Similar to Health on Wheels, the health mobile unit travels to different communities in Fresno County providing access to affordable health care, while providing hands-on training for nursing students.
Funding for the unit and its services is the result of a grant from the Song-Brown Program, which is commissioned by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to provide quality health care in underserved areas.
More than 4,000 individuals have taken advantage of services offered through Health on Wheels and the Community Health Mobile Unit.
“For first- or second-semester students, having the autonomy and ability to learn in the mobile health unit helps with their confidence level exponentially,” said Courtney Marie Brown, a second-year nursing student. “You’re learning so much from seeing all these patients in one day versus the one or two patients you typically get to take care of on the hospital floor.”
Health on Wheels will have additional stops throughout the remainder of the semester and into next spring. For more information on upcoming dates, please contact Andrew Schiavello-Youngblood at 559.572.7755 or firstname.lastname@example.org.