Jacksonville Hospital Mobile Ministry provides health care

About 30 years ago Ascension St. Vincent’s started a mobile health outreach to provide free medical care to migrant farm workers in St. Louis counties. Johns and Putnam.

Organized by the Daughters of Charity who founded the hospital, a small and dedicated group traveled from place to place in a used mini-van.

Since then, the Mobile Health Outreach Ministry has expanded its footprint — adding Duval, Clay and Nassau counties — and its mission has become a key player in regional efforts to combat health disparities.

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Now five fully equipped and staffed recreational vehicles serve uninsured, underinsured and low-income families in the five-county area with free programs for adults, children and seniors. Dental services for adults are also provided by volunteer dentists.

The units provide most of the primary care services that can be obtained in a doctor’s office, including exams, management of chronic adult conditions, laboratory services, school and sports physicals, and immunizations.

At Lakeshore Baptist Church in Jacksonville, registered nurse Claudia Portell (left) greets patient Victoria Nelson outside an Ascension St. mobile health care clinic.  Vincent for a checkup.

And by being mobile, the ministry overcomes Northeast Florida’s main barrier to accessing health care: lack of transportation.

“The goal is to serve the most vulnerable,” said registered nurse Claudia Portell, community outreach manager for the ministry. “Making that care accessible.”

No other area hospital or nonprofit offers a free mobile health care program that is as widespread and geographically comprehensive as that offered by Ascension St. Vincent’s, according to area health care officials. .

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