Akron General is rolling out the latest example of its drive to boost health and wellness services.
The health system unveiled a new, custom-built mobile medical unit called the Health & Wellness Express during a celebration Thursday to mark its 100th anniversary.
The 39-foot-long coach includes two fully functional medical exam rooms, along with space for registering patients, taking blood draws and conducting other tests.
The idea behind this new medical office on wheels is to take care to the patients, whether they’re residents of poor or underserved communities or workers at companies that want to bring health-care services to the workplace, said Dr. Thomas “Tim” Stover, the health system’s president and chief executive.
“It’s just another way to advance the whole concept around making it easier for the patient to access what we do,” he said.
Stover has long been a proponent of taking health-care and preventive services into the community. He helped Akron General launch its popular Health & Wellness centers, which offer outpatient care alongside medically based fitness centers.
“I want this out in the community every day,” he said of the Health & Wellness Express.
The mobile medical unit is part of the health system’s Community Access and Wellness Services, a division that’s being created to pull together Akron General’s outreach initiatives and wellness programs, said Steve Abdenour, senior vice president of system operations for Akron General Health System.
“We’re looking at this to fill community needs as well as corporate needs,” he said.
The health system can use the handicapped-accessible vehicle to offer health screenings, sports physicals, urgent care services, corporate wellness services and community outreach for residents that have difficulty accessing primary-care services, Abdenour said. Specialty services such as oncology, heart and vascular and orthopedics also could use the unit to take care out to patients.
The mobile medical unit already is scheduled to travel to Valley View the first week of March to provide cholesterol testing and blood pressure and body-mass index readings for unions there who requested the services, said Bret Belfer, Akron General’s manager of wellness services.
“We’re trying to create ease of access for our community,” he said.
The health system plans to hire a couple nurse practitioners to staff the unit, as well as potentially a paramedic who can help provide services and drive the vehicle, which doesn’t require a special license, Abdenour said.
The Health & Wellness Express was purchased with money provided by the Akron General Foundation, a fundraising arm of the health system.
Akron General officials declined to release the cost of the vehicle, citing competitive reasons.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/CherylPowellABJ.