The New York University College of Nursing is getting ready to roll out a brand-new mobile health clinic called Feeling Good in Your Neighborhood. The cheerfully decorated, rainbow-patterned, 36-foot van is a fully equipped healthcare practice with two examination rooms, a handicapped-accessible restroom, and state-of-the-art equipment. It has been designed to complement the College of Dentistry’s Smiling Faces, Going Places mobile outreach program.
The two vans will be like sisters, offering comprehensive health services by providing both primary care and dental care, says Salimah Walani, MSN, MPH, program director of the initiative, who spent months thinking through the design of the new van. We wanted to be completely in charge of the services we are providing; this is a nurse-managed and conceptualized center from the ground up.
The Feeling Good in Your Neighborhood van will service an area of Brooklyn with a large immigrant community that is largely uninsured and suffers high rates of asthma hospitalizations and obesity, said Erin Abu-Rish, RN, BSN, the nurse-coordinator of the program. The program is directed by a family nurse practitioner, Carolyn Iocolono, PhD, FNP, and will be used as a clinical site for adult and pediatric courses in both undergraduate and graduate programs at the College of Nursing, said Ms. Abu-Rish.
With a patient population of both children and adults, the van will rotate visits among schools, homeless women’s shelters, and Head Start programs, providing primary care, physical examinations, vision and other screening exams, immunizations, and women’s healthcare services.
The College of Nursing has been engaged in Brooklyn school-based primary care programs for over 15 years, operating a mobile health van with Brooklyn Hospital from 2003 to 2007. With the end of Brooklyn Hospital’s van project, the College of Nursing made the decision to launch its own mobile clinic. A brand-new van, outfitted in Cincinnati, Ohio, by Armor Mobile Systems, enables the College to continue to expand its neighborhood-based healthcare program.
The program is well known in the Fort Greene, Vinegar Hill, and Clinton Hill neighborhoods of Brooklyn. These, and the other neighborhoods visited by the van, have high rates of chronic or undiagnosed illnesses. The program also helps some of the schools meet their physical exam goals, and children are referred to Brooklyn Hospital if more services are necessary.
We have become very embedded in the communities we serve, and the proof is that we have had requests for our services from additional schools, homeless shelters, and Head Start programs, says Judith Haber, PhD, APRN, BC, FAAN, Ursula Springer Leadership Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, who oversees the mobile van program.
Beyond focusing on physical wellness, the nurse-providers focus on family health education. Nurses offer guidance on nutrition, oral health, and asthma, hypertension, and diabetes management. For those children who are uninsured, the van’s staff-a family nurse practitioner and two registered nurses-aims to get them coverage. Brooklyn has the highest number of residents in New York City who are eligible for public health insurance but are not enrolled.
I am thrilled with this project, another example of an innovative primary care initiative by the College that expands access to primary care for children and their families in a highly underserved neighborhood, said Dr. Haber.