Newswise — Baltimore, MD- LifeBridge Health recently announced the launch of its “Care Happens Here” mobile unit, which will bring a wide range of healthcare testing and treatment services, including COVID-19 vaccinations, to vulnerable communities throughout central Maryland. The new mobile unit will offer a targeted “on the ground” approach to providing COVID-19 testing, medical care (including pediatrics, specialized senior care and post-acute care), as well as immunizations and referrals for further medical and social services. LifeBridge Health developed the Care Happens Here unit to assess and address social determinants of health and unmet needs in neighborhoods where residents often face multiple barriers to care, including lack of transportation, access to telemedicine resources, inability to afford care or prescriptions, and housing and food insecurity. The Care Happens Here unit debuts at the same time when LifeBridge Health joined with the Mayor of Baltimore, the City Health Commissioner and other local health partners in a coordinated initiative to use mobile units to bring COVID-19 vaccines to older adults and other priority groups who may have challenges in getting to vaccination clinics.
“At LifeBridge Health, our purpose statement is ‘Caring for Our Communities Together,’ and we are proud to join with the City of Baltimore and our fellow health partners in this initiative to bring COVID-19 vaccines into our communities. We are excited to be launching our new ‘Care Happens Here’ mobile unit at this same time, as this new mobile resource allows us to bring more of our healthcare services, including vaccinations, directly to the residents we serve,” says Rebecca Altman, LifeBridge Health vice president and chief integration officer.
At the Care Happen Here unit’s first COVID vaccination visit was February 19 at Harlem Gardens, a senior living facility in West Baltimore. The team vaccinated 50 residents that day and will return at later in March to administer the second dose of the Moderna vaccine.
“Our Care Happens Here unit is the latest example of our commitment to getting resources into the communities we serve in innovative and practical ways that meet the evolving needs of residents,” says Neil Meltzer, president and CEO of LifeBridge Health. “While our team at LifeBridge Health has always been proactive in this regard, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to dig deeper to find novel ways to Care Bravely and make a positive impact on the health of our communities.”
Unit Serves as ‘Doctor’s Office on Wheels’ The customized van includes a mobile treatment room equipped with clinical supplies and equipment found in a typical doctor’s office, including:
- A full patient exam table that can accommodate adult and pediatric patients. Refrigeration and freezer space for storage of vaccines, including the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
- Technology and connectivity required to record data and support telehealth visits if patients require care from a provider in LifeBridge Health’s Virtual Hospital.
- Infant scale as well as a regular scale for weighing adults and children.
- Privacy curtains and window tinting to protect patient privacy.
- Eye-catching custom graphics that signify to area residents that Care Happens Here and resources are available.
Care Happens Here unit visits are scheduled in advance with patients and are targeted using a data-driven approach to get resources to those individuals at greatest risk based on numerous factors, including age, chronic diseases, population density, and social determinants of health. The units are staffed by a combination of physicians, nurses, community health workers, and other team members, including advanced practice providers such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The composition of the staff on board is customized each day depending on the types of patients they are serving.
Pilot Program Demonstrated Need and Results
The Care Happens Here Unit was inspired and informed by a pilot program LifeBridge Health implemented following the onset of the COVID pandemic using repurposed patient transport vans.
Those two initial units made more than 315 patient visits during the six-week pilot program in this past summer. The visits were targeted using a data-driven approach to get resources to those individuals at greatest risk for negative outcomes for COVID-19. Of the 315 patients seen, more than 80% had abnormal blood pressure, more than 50% had three or more underlying chronic medical conditions, and more than 30% had not seen a primary care physician in over a year.
“The results of our pilot program spoke to a growing need in our communities that has to be addressed,” says Sharon McClernan, vice president of clinical integration at LifeBridge Health. “Beyond the impacts of COVID-19 within these vulnerable populations, we saw alarming trends of people deferring care for other medical issues, and it was clear we needed to take a more personal approach to serving people’s holistic needs in the home. The Care Happens Here unit is a perfect extension of our ongoing population health efforts throughout central Maryland.”
Video/broll for media:
Video – About the Care Happens Here van: https://vimeo.com/512627273/b0e6bd057a
About LifeBridge Health LifeBridge Health is one of the largest, most comprehensive providers of health services in Maryland. LifeBridge Health includes Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Northwest Hospital, Carroll Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, Grace Medical Center and related subsidiaries and affiliates. For more information, visit www.lifebridgehealth.org # # #