Underserved adults in Boone County who may not have a primary care physician or know where to go for resources for other health needs now have a new option from the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services.
The department unveiled its new Health on Wheels outreach van at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.
The van and its crew are supported by two grant programs including the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Community Health Worker Initiative and the Local Public Health Disparities Initiative. Both initiatives are supported by contracts with the state’s Department of Public Health and Senior Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, respectively.
Jennifer Clark-Williams, one of the directors of the van’s outreach program, said the van has two stops where adults in Boone County can receive health assessments from the department’s community health workers.
“This is the form we will fill out to figure out (a person’s) health status,” she said.
This can include basic questions such as how often fruits and vegetables are eaten and whether a person sees or has a primary care physician for regular checkups. This outreach program is designed to help address community health issues related to high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, COVID-19 and more.
A person who is assessed at that time can enroll in a three-month program in which they receive regular calls and assistance where the person can connect with other health resources in the community.
“We want to help them along the way, introduce them to what they need and hold them accountable so they can keep doing it,” Clark-Williams said.
She added that the main focus of the outreach van program is currently on adults.
The department will post an announcement on its website and social media accounts about the locations the van will visit.
“This van is going to be used to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes in underserved communities by meeting with community members. So it’s in terms of location and where they are in terms of health,” Clark-Williams said.
The van features artwork by former Department Youth Community Health Worker Lauren Greene and is intended to represent the people of Boone County so that people can identify with themselves and feel more comfortable when approaching the van.
“We have big burr oaks, veterans, farm equipment, college students, the Daniel Boone Public Library, healthy food, and people of all ages and backgrounds,” Clark-Williams said.
The new outreach van was celebrated not only by the department, but also by Boone County Chief Commissioner Kip Kendrick and Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe.
Kendrick focuses on how Missouri as a state doesn’t spend enough on public health, and so celebrates how the grants provide a way to provide more public health services.
“It’s great that we’re here today to celebrate progress and take proactive steps to address existing health disparities and those that are exacerbating the response to COVID-19,” he said. “We are fortunate that public health in Boone County and Columbia Professionals are not only good at their jobs, they are passionate about them.”
Buffalo singled out those grants in her remarks, adding that the department seeks all grants to help it “expand its impact and outreach.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown that the public health system needs more resources, she said.
“Having a mobile unit that provides compassionate care to our community health workers will be an invaluable resource. They will be able to provide resources and referrals to programs and organizations that we have not traditionally heard of – this is That’s the gap – People Buffaloe says:
Charles Dunlap covers local government, community stories and other general topics for The Tribune.You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or @CD_CDT on twitter. Subscribe to support important local journalism.