A ministry of Christian healing and visible witness of compassionate care
For more information about contributing to the Care-A-Van program, contact:
St. Dominic Health Services Foundation: Jim Jeeter, Executive Director 969 Lakeland Drive, Jackson, MS 39216 601-200-6911 • email@example.com
Living the Mission
For more than 28 years St. Dominic Health Services has been reaching beyond the hospital walls into Mississippi communities via its Care-A-Van mobile health clinic. With disease prevention and education as its primary focus, the 42-foot, specially outfitted motor coach travels throughout Central Mississippi conducting screening and education programs for school-age children and the elderly, but it’s so much more.
Well-Being spoke to Sonya Walker, registered nurse and Director of the Care-A-Van about the program and the higher mission that is the driving force behind it.
“The Care-A-Van program is a collaborative ministry to meet the healthcare and educational needs of children and seniors living below the poverty level, the majority of whom would not receive primary healthcare services if we couldn’t bring it to them,” notes Walker, an eleven-year veteran of the program. “When we make regular visits to schools, senior centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, churches and the other locations where we see patients within the six Mississippi counties we serve (Hinds, Madison, Copiah, Rankin, Yazoo and Sunflower), we are a visual witness of Christ’s compassionate care. Beyond the health services we provide, that is our greatest accomplishment.”
Amazingly, Walker and one staff nurse, along with a licensed practical nurse, and driver who assist on an as needed basis, see some 12,000 patients each year, with the help of an army of volunteers who donate their time to provide health screenings and offer current health and wellness information.
“St. Dominic’s encourages its employees to give back to their communities by allowing each full-time staff member to volunteer for Care-A-Van and ministries such as Stewpot Community Services, Habitat for Humanity and others, 16 hours a calendar year with pay,” explains Walker. “We could never accomplish what we do without them, and it is a beautiful articulation of ‘Living the Mission’ through service.”
According to Walker volunteers come from a multitude of different backgrounds, such as doctors, nurses, medical and nursing students, technicians and lay people. The program also provides training for anyone who is interested in helping.
The Care-A-Van staff and those who assist them provide everything from screening for high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, to determining a patient’s body mass index, checking their height and weight, conducting hearing and vision tests and checking for scoliosis (curvature of the spine). For many of the children and seniors, the Care-A-Van is the only primary care provider. Because the staff sees them on an on-going basis, their medical history can be compiled and follow-up care provided. Many times serious conditions are detected that without proper referral and treatment might have been catastrophic. The Care-A-Van is not a one-time, shot-in-the-dark provider. It’s more like a trusted friend that is there for the long haul.
“The Care-A-Van ministry is deeply rooted in the fundamental principles of the Preferential Option for the Poor and the Common Good of Community,” Walker explains. “The belief in these principles is realized by our ongoing work to: decrease the risk of disease with the delivery of educational and screening programs; partner with other companies to provide a cost-effective referral base for patients; improve access to healthcare; and pool resources to enhance the quality of life for vulnerable Mississippians. Our goal is to serve in such a manner that Christ’s love and compassion are communicated in the lives of others,” Walker concludes.
For more information about volunteering for the Care-A-Van, contact Sonya Walker, RN, Director at 601-200-6799 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DID YOU KNOW?
What is the Care-A-Van program? A mobile health ministry of St. Dominic’s Health Services designed to decrease the risk of disease in underserved areas with the delivery of educational and screening programs. It is housed in a 42-foot, custom-built motor coach equipped as a rolling clinic.
Year St. Dominic’s Care-A-Van program was initiated: 1987
Goals: To decrease healthcare disparities among the poor and underserved population, improve health outcomes and the overall health status of Mississippi communities.
Number of people served annually: 12,000
Heath screenings conducted in the Care-A-Van: Blood pressure, hearing, vision, scoliosis, height, weight, body mass index (BMI), glucose and cholesterol checks.
Educational component of the program: Educational information and current literature regarding health and wellness is provided along with primary health care services.
Care-A-Van staff: A full-time staff nurse, a full-time nurse director, as well as an LPN and driver who both work on an as needed basis, and numerous volunteers.
Area served: Hinds, Madison, Copiah, Rankin, Yazoo and Sunflower counties of Mississippi
Funding source: St. Dominic Health Services with community partners such as Trustmark National Bank.
Population served: Children and seniors with poor access to regular medical care. The Care-A-Van visits rural schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, senior centers, Stewpot Community Services, Operation Shoestring, churches and other faith-based organizations.