By Donna Thornton/News Editor
The Quality of Life Health Service mobile unit hit the streets for the first time Oct. 16, visiting Emma Sansom Middle School to provide screenings for at least 60 students.
QOLHS Marketing Director Jonathan Smith said the unit is equipped to provide vision, dental and medical screenings for students, as well as performing some dental and medical procedures.
According to a statement from QOLHS, Chief Executive Officer Wayne Rowe had the vision to bring health care to hard-to-reach populations.
He visited a number of sites in the south, most in large urban areas, where mobile units worked well for community organizations.
The questions remained: Would it work in a smaller more suburban or rural setting, and if how could it be funded?
The Department of Health and Human Services is the major funder of community health programs, and the department seemed to favor permanent, neighborhood locations when it funded expansions.
About two years ago, an opportunity presented itself, according to QOLHS – an opportunity for programs to compete for funds specifically for School-based Health Center Capital Grants under the Affordable Care Act. Applicants would have to demonstrate how their proposed capital project would lead to improvements in health care for children at a school-based health center.
QOLHS submitted a grant request for funding to construct a mobile medical and dental unit to be used in the Gadsden City School System and other venues to improve access to health care services for school-aged children. QOLHS received the grant, and in August, the Quality Health Express Mobile Unit pulled into the parking lot at QOL Health Complex.
Last week, the unit made its first visit to a Gadsden city school so that students whose parents gave consent could be treated or screened for an illness. The staff of the current school-based health center, Gadsden Family & Student Health Solutions, has worked with the leadership in each school to let parents know about the available care, according to a QOLHS statement.