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A Clinic on Wheels Meets Kids Close to Home

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Clinic On Wheels

For all too many families, a simple doctor’s appointment is an unaffordable luxury. Arranging transportation, taking time off of work, and paying out-of-pocket costs can all be deal-breakers, even when a child’s health is at stake.

That’s why Laura Chilcutt, MD, proposed the idea of a free mobile clinic — and why we’re so proud to support this exciting pilot program.

Since early in 2021, Laura has been driving an old repurposed blue van as much as 40 miles into low-income Central Florida neighborhoods surrounding our hospital in Orlando. On one Saturday morning each month, she rotates between three different sites — a community center, a nonprofit’s office, and the Mexican consulate — where she is joined by another 10 volunteer providers, including Nemours Children’s pediatricians and residents and medical students from the University of Central Florida. 

Laura’s team gives vaccinations, conducts annual well-child visits, and screens kids for hearing, vision and emotional health. For many of the clinic’s patient families who are recent immigrants without documents, the visit may be their child’s first U.S. health care appointment.

The van carries an exam table, stethoscopes, eye charts and other equipment, including an EKG monitor for tests required for children to participate in school sports. Laura also distributes boxes of food from the food bank and helps applicants apply for public food aid.

“They did more than I thought they were going to do,” says Jennifer Fernandez, who brought her daughter, Maria, in for vaccinations and was pleasantly surprised that a provider also quizzed her on her mental health and attitude toward school. “It was really nice; everyone was amazing,” she adds.

It’s all free of charge, thanks to the support of TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, and a more recent donation from Bank of America.

“We have a beautiful hospital in Orlando but there are a lot of areas with far fewer services so getting residents and medical students out to see the reality of how the people live is incredibly important for training,” says Laura. “We can see what these families are going through and if there are other services we can be providing.” 

The mobile clinic program was particularly helpful during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many parents were worried about bringing their children into doctors’ offices, and kids fell behind on their vaccinations. But even as the pandemic subsides, the program helps us connect with the communities in which our patients work, learn and live.

“Efforts like these bring care directly to communities with less access,” says Kara Odom Walker, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Population Health Officer of Nemours. “Our work to share resources and work with community partners helps to elevate the health of our overall community of children.”

Traveling far beyond our hospital doors is yet another way we’re making good on our vow to go “well beyond medicine.” 

The mobile clinics are scheduled for one Saturday a month, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Kara Odom Walker, MD, MPH, MSHS, Senior Vice President, Chief Population Health Officer