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Mobile Health Clinic Unveiled To Serve Uninsured While Lowering Emergency Room Use

Photo of staff.
Erik Neumann / KUER
Staff at Utah Partners for Health stand in front of the new mobile medical clinic which was unveiled on Thursday.

Medical staff buzzed around the inside of a new 36-foot-long RV in the parking lot of Utah Partners for Health in Salt Lake City’s Glendale neighborhood on Thursday. Inside, two exam rooms will soon provide a workplace for medical assistants and a registered nurse to treat some of Utah’s most needy.

The new trailer is the second mobile clinic of nonprofit health care provider Utah Partners for Health and is intended to increase medical access for the uninsured while lowering health care costs overall.

“We go to almost all the ER hotspots, where people go to the ER because they don’t have access to a primary health care provider,” said Kurt Micka, the executive director of United Partners for Health. “When they have a cough or a sore throat, they don’t necessarily know what to do. So they just go to the ER. That’s a very big expense.”

Micka said the mobile clinic will serve uninsured people throughout Salt Lake and Tooele Counties, in the process reducing system-wide health care costs. He said there are about 350,000 uninsured people in the Salt Lake County area.

Photo of Paul Jackson.
Credit Erik Neumann / KUER
Paul Jackson works with Utah Partners for Health and helped design the new mobile clinic.

Paul Jackson, an employee at Utah Partners in Health who helped design the new trailer, said the trailer will be a site to do everything from mental health and lipid cholesterol testing to women’s health with IUD birth control devices and pap smears.

“We actually discover tons of people that have hypertension and diabetes that didn’t know about it,” said Jackson. “Especially people coming in from South and Central America.”

The federally qualified health center frequently serves people who are below the poverty level, including clients who are homeless and or refugees.

The first mobile clinic of Utah Partners for Health began operating in 2007. This larger trailer cost $62,000. It was designed and built in partnership with United Way of Salt Lake.

“It makes a huge difference for kids and families to have access to health care in their neighborhoods,” said Bill Crim, CEO of United Way of Salt Lake during the mobile clinic unveiling ceremony. During the ceremony, Crim was joined by Utah Congressman Ben McAdams and state Senator Kathleen Riebe.

The new mobile clinic will also offer a specialized focus on women’s health, as well as mental health and substance abuse services, including medication assisted treatment which is used to help wean people of opioids.

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.
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