READING, Pa. - A mobile health clinic from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provided medical care for veterans during the final day of a Military Veterans Stand Down event at GoggleWorks Center for the Arts on March 8.
The 326th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment organized the event, which was the first ever in Berks County to be led by an Army Reserve unit. The primary purpose of the three-day event was to offer essential services to veterans, many of who are homeless. Other services included food and clothing, career resources and VA benefits counseling.
Five years ago, VA piloted the mobile clinics in an attempt to provide more efficient medical care to veterans in rural areas. Jim Ninehouser, a Navy veteran, is the driver and administrator for one of these clinics. He arrived in Reading to facilitate medical services for veterans in the area.
“This program is really saving VA money,” Ninehouser said. “Rather than paying for a veteran to travel all the way to the VA, we can go to them and save a lot of money in the process.”
Ninehouser said the mobile clinics were only funded for the first two years by a federal grant but his clinic has become so successful that the truck has paid for itself in only three years.
Ninehouser’s mobile clinic is based out of Clarkesburg, W.Va. and provides services to nineteen surrounding counties, at times traveling over two hours to provide care for veterans. Ninehouser said many veterans are too sick or lack transportation to travel long distances for medical appointments. The mobile health clinic is a way for VA doctors and nurses to go to them.
Missy Frazier has been a registered nurse at the Lebanon VA Hospital since 2003, starting in the emergency room and now works in the hospital’s education department. The Lebanon VA serves thirteen counties in Pennsylvania, which have a population of over 200,000 veterans.
“I loved working in the ER,” said Frazier. “The ER is a place where vets can come to receive immediate care if they don’t have an appointment or can’t wait for one.”
Frazier said their ER currently treats approximately 50 patients each day and the needs are great in the area, making events like this beneficial.
“This is the first event we have had here,” said Frazier. “We usually do an event every year all the way in Harrisburg so it is great to be able to do a local one like this.”
VA doctors and nurses were able to provide veterans with many basic medical services like checking blood pressure, administering vaccines and taking blood draws. The mobile clinic is also capable of providing more advanced services like X-rays and electrocardiograms.