Most people associate Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) with providing housing, meals and a place of solace to family members who have a seriously ill child staying at the hospital. However, did you know that RMHC also benefits the Washington, D.C. community by offering free mobile health care to children under the age of 21? The Care Mobile program, which was established in February 2004 and has served thousands of children in the Washington, D.C. community, is also planning to expand to Northern Virginia in 2012. I had an opportunity to pose some questions to Lisa Smith and Karen Judson, respectively the Executive Director and Outreach Coordinator for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, D.C. about the successes of the program.
Please describe the types of services that encompass the Care Mobile program. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is operated in partnership with Georgetown University Hospital. Our fully equipped mobile medical van serves six locations in Washington, D.C. including sites in Wards 5, 6, 7, and 8. One of the sites is a homeless shelter and two are public high schools. Children under the age of 21 are eligible, regardless of their health insurance status. There is no out-of-pocket cost to their parents or caregivers and our focus is two-fold. First, we aim to provide under-served children a comprehensive and high quality medical home and second, we strive to offer continuity of care. Our services include well child and sick visits, physicals, immunizations, hearing and vision screenings, ophthalmology services, gynecological services, tuberculosis tests, pharmacy and lab services, medical management of chronic conditions, and referrals. In addition, the Care Mobile program provides mental health services, social services, health education, outreach, and advocacy.
How many children do you help in a typical year? In 2008, which is the latest set of statistics we have available, the Care Mobile provided 2185 patient visits, 569 of which were new patients. The number of distinct patients was 1007. To give you an example of how we are impacting our community, one mother wrote to us after her son was treated. “When C.J. needed help, I didn’t know where to turn. Luckily the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile was right in front of us. The staff and doctor saw C.J. right away and he got the treatments he needed – free. I am so grateful the doctors and staff on board the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile were there for C.J. and me. Not only did they treat his condition, they treated him to a big dose of confidence and let him know that he mattered and that they cared.”
Would you like to comment on how the Care Mobile program supports the recently passed health care legislation? We believe that the Care Mobile program supports the new legislation by providing children immediate and direct access to first class health care in the communities they live. The program will continue to provide medical care in communities that may not have an abundance of doctors available to assist children in Wards 5 through 8. In addition, our staff utilizes electronic health records for each child. The electronic record maintains complete, up-to-date, and easily accessible documentation for each child and is linked to Georgetown University Hospital’s database, as well as to its lab and pharmacy for quick test results and prescriptions.
How can one support the Care Mobile program? A donation to RMHC is the best way to provide ongoing support for this very important program and to expand it to Northern Virginia. We have begun the initial outreach with potential medical partners to add a second Care Mobile for Northern Virginia and our hope is to have it on the road by 2012.
Click here to find out more information about the Ronald McDonald House programs in your area of the world.
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