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Health on wheels

Fresno State nursing students are providing free health services to the community.

Since spring 2015, Fresno State’s nursing program has used a mobile unit on loan from the Fresno County Office of Education to help rural communities and the underserved.

The students provide screenings for diabetes, blood pressure, flu shots and deliver health assessments, among other services.

From September 2015 to October 2016, the unit made a total of 38 visits and served 1,177 people.

Courtney Brown, 34, a fourth-semester nursing student and the community service director for the California Nursing Students Association (CNSA) Club at Fresno State, said taking healthcare to the community helps facilitate the patients’ treatment.

“Mobile health units provide such an access to care for people who either their doctors can’t see them in a couple of weeks or they’re booked,” Brown said. “Maybe the doctor in their area isn’t taking new patients. What if they don’t have a vehicle to get there?”

The other half of this equation offers something valuable, as well.

“And then (there’s) also what it does for students,” Brown said. “It’s a win-win situation. It’s undoubtedly win-win because not only are they honing their skills as student nurses but they’re giving back to that community.”

Primavera Trevino, 35, a Fresno resident, went recently to one of the sites because her husband needed to get a physical for his job. She was told it would be $168 in a doctor’s office.

“I think it’s good, I think they should have more of them. I’ve been looking for one for over two months,” Trevino said. “They’re really helping us a lot right now.”

Dr. Kathleen Randahl, program director, said what began as a grant project for the nursing department has turned into a beneficial service for students and the community.

At one site, five people were sent to the emergency room for high blood sugar counts and another person to urgent care for abnormally high blood pressure.

“Most people if you just go out and you’re a health care provider, they don’t want to see you,” Randahl said. “But when they have a student go out, they’ll help the student. So it actually helps the student and it also helps the individual.”

The Fresno State CNSA club will be at the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) convention April 5-7. Members will present a resolution on benefits and impacts of mobile units for communities and student learning. They were selected among other California nursing programs to represent the state at the national level.

Referring to the mobile health unit, Brown said, “I can see the way it affects a community in a positive manner.”