Mobile Health Clinic Program
Regular visits to the doctor are a key component of disease prevention, but in communities with limited access to healthcare, unreliable transportation and a lack of health insurance prevent many people from seeing a doctor at all. BBF’s Mobile Health Clinic Program eliminates the obstacles between the patient and the exam chair by bringing the exam chair directly to the patient.
The program launched in 2022 in response to an unmet need for specialized eye care in our home city of Pittsburgh. After partnering with local ophthalmologists and running several successful clinics, we began addressing the overwhelming healthcare needs in underserved communities throughout the United States. To date, BBF has donated four mobile health vans to healthcare organizations that are providing accessible healthcare services in three states.
The impact of our work has provided unhoused patients with specialty eye care, ensured students receive eye exams and prescription glasses before starting a new school year and prevented countless others from falling through the cracks of our healthcare system.
How the Program Works
- BBF analyzes data and assesses community needs.
- Drawing from our extensive nationwide network of partner organizations, we connect with health care organizations well-equipped with the staffing necessary to extend high-quality care to underserved regions.
- Healthcare providers communicate what medical equipment they need to best serve communities, and BBF provides funding and logistical support to install these specialized tools in vehicles.
- We donate the new and fully-equipped mobile health van to the healthcare organization, so doctors can host health clinics in underserved communities and provide high-quality care to patients at an affordable or free cost.
Our first eye van was donated to the Eye and Ear Foundation of Pittsburgh and has supported and expanded the services being provided by Guerilla Eye Service (GES), a group of volunteer eye doctors and medical students who travel to underserved areas in the Greater Pittsburgh region.
Prior to receiving the mobile health clinic, GES transported eye equipment in a 2006 minivan and relied on local facilities as places to provide care. By operating from a mobile health van, GES has been able to provide care to remote and often overlooked communities such as homeless encampments.
“When you’re trying to overcome food security and housing security issues, trying to get back on your feet, get a job – you need to be able to see.”
- Dr. Evan Waxman, Director, UPMC Vision Institute Mercy; Founder, Guerilla Eye Service
Our second Pittsburgh van, donated to Allegheny Health Network In the fall of 2023, will support the primary care outreach operations at the organization’s existing health clinics.
Palm Beach County, Florida
Palm Beach County may have a wealthy reputation, but there is substantial inequity when it comes to healthcare accessibility. Caridad Center is one of the largest free health clinics in Florida and operates a team of more than 700 volunteer health care providers who provide free medical care to uninsured Palm Beach County residents living at or below 200% of the federal poverty line.
With their new mobile health van, doctors have extended the services offered at their eye clinic in Boynton Beach to county residents who don’t have the means to visit on site.
We serve all sectors of our community that need us, from all corners of this county. For many of them, transportation is the number one barrier to access to care.”
- Laura Callus, CEO, Caridad Center
BBF began partnering with KentuckyCare following the deadly tornadoes that ripped through western Kentucky in December 2021. A Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), KentuckyCare provides low-income residents with an expansive range of affordable health care services that include everything from immunizations and nutritional health to cardiology and chronic disease management.
BBF donated a mobile heath van to KentuckyCare in the fall of 2023 to help the organization expand their primary care services into rural areas without healthcare facilities. The versatility afforded by mobile health vans will also allow medical providers to adapt to changing needs in these communities, such as those that that may occur in the wake of future disasters.
While continuing to raise funds for additional MHCs, BBF’s goal is to develop this program in collaboration with implementation partners and potential funders in Pittsburgh and across the nation.
The basis for BBF’s strategy to address health inequities lies in the research report titled Addressing Unmet Healthcare Needs in SWPA (Southwest Pennsylvania).