Beyond the Card: How One Doctor’s Office on Wheels Is (Literally) Going the Distance for Patients
Most people don’t get to have a direct impact on the lives of the people in their community, but retired family practice physician Patrick McClellan, D.O., has the joy of doing so on a regular basis. McClellan teaches at Macomb McLaren’s mobile medical outreach clinic twice every week, helping younger doctors find their passion and purpose, as well as providing critical care to upwards of 1,000 local residents each year.
“Knowing how many people miss doctor’s appointments because they can’t transport themselves to the office, I came up with the idea that we should take the clinic to the patients rather than have the patients struggle to get to the clinic,” McClellan says.
From there, the idea only grew. McClellan consulted the Macomb McLaren hospital board with the idea of funding and launching a mobile clinic, and after getting the support of board members, began fundraising. The local response was overwhelming and he quickly gained enough funding and support to launch the mobile clinic.
Another key source of support for the clinic is funding from a Blue Cross Strengthening the Safety Net grant. These grants provide financial support to free clinics across the state that reach low-income residents and help residents who might otherwise go without health care. The funding has helped supply medical items and other clinical operations to Macomb McLaren’s mobile medical outreach clinic, as well as dozens of similar care providers in Michigan.
Today, the clinic is a fully functioning, movable office that enables community members to stay healthy. It operates out of a trailer to provide preventive and primary medical care at no charge to residents of Macomb County who otherwise couldn’t afford health care.
It features two exam rooms, a reception and administration area, restroom and counseling area. “What’s unique is that this isn’t merely a screening clinic,” says McClellan. “If you have diabetes, we will get your medicine at no charge and we will take care of you as long as you fit certain criteria, such as your income and employment status. If you need heart bypass surgery, we will connect you to the right team. If you need your cataracts removed, we help find a way to get it done.”
The clinic doesn’t just impact the residents that visit, it also touches McClellan and his students. “The fact that, now, several hundred family practice providers, specialty physicians, nurses and pharmacy students have all been shown how to treat the underserved is huge,” says McClellan. “We’re showing there are ways to render effective care to our poorer population and the physicians, nurses and students are all thankful to experience that firsthand.”
McClellan, in particular, has felt especially impacted by the success of the work. “I feel so emotionally satisfied every week by the work I do at this clinic,” he says. “It happened the first week, and it’s happened every week for the past 25 years. Many of our patients have not been able to get care for a long time and the chronic illnesses that we see are severe. Being able to make their lives better is so valuable. We’re just doing the right thing, thanks to the generosity of the hospital. It’s amazing.”
To learn more about the Macomb McLaren mobile medical outreach clinic, click here and watch this video:
Want to read more about the impact of clinics and community-based health initiatives? You may also enjoy these blog posts:
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- Beyond the Card: Muskegon Residents Trade Volunteer Hours for Dental Treatment
- Beyond the Card: Northern Michigan Communities Win by Losing
Photo credit: Jenny Cu