WARREN — The city will purchase a $230,000 neighborhood health clinic van to provide medical services to residents in their neighborhoods instead of waiting for them to come to the Warren City Health District offices.
The new vehicle will allow the city’s health district to do preventive screenings, such as taking blood pressure; conduct glucose and cholesterol testing; provide flu, COVID-19 and other vaccines; offer HIV, STD and hepatitis C testing; as well as promote healthy living.
“With St. Joseph (Warren) Hospital moving, there may be some people that feel they won’t have access to needed services,” Cheryl Strother, director of nursing at the Warren City Health District, said. “We already know we are not reaching all of those who are in need of medical assistance in the city because when we participate in health fairs in churches, barbershops and other locations, there often are crowds of people who attend. They do not come to our clinic.”
Mercy Health announced in May that it will move St. Joseph Warren Hospital from Eastland Avenue in the city to a new 62-acre campus next to Kent State University at Trumbull campus in Champion.
The new 400,000-square-foot facility — the first new hospital built in the Mahoning Valley since Mercy constructed St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital in 2007 — is planned to have 241 beds and will provide full inpatient and outpatient services, plus have room to grow.
Also planned is a medical office building adjacent to the hospital that will offer specialist care.
On Eastland Avenue SE, the present facility will be torn down, but Mercy will continue to maintain the campus and offer outpatient services at the medical office building next to the hospital.
Strother said people — especially in minority communities — have not been coming to the city’s health clinic, and they feel they will not have access to services once the current St. Joseph is closed.
“We want to establish a level of trust,” she said. “We will do this by taking services to them. We want them to know they are seen and we’re interested in providing for their needs by bringing services to where they are.
“A lot of times, people will be more open to providing information about their health concerns if they are met where they are,” Strother said.
Funding for the vehicle is expected to come from a $184,149 grant from the Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation and a $75,000 donation from Warren Councilman Ronald C. White, D-7th Ward, who will provide funds from the $500,000 that each council member has been allocated in American Rescue Plan funds. With this contribution, White will have $361,900 remaining of his ward’s ARP money allocation remaining.
In addition, the health department has been approved for another $75,000 grant from a National Association of County and City Health Officials grant award — Partnering for Vaccine Equity project — to address inequities in COVID-19 and influenza vaccination coverage among racial and ethnic minority adults.
“One of the greatest benefits of mobile clinics is they make services easily accessible to people who would otherwise be unable to receive them,” she said. “The fact that these clinics are mobile means that those who are unable to leave their homes and walk, ride or drive all the way to health clinics and hospitals can have these services brought to their doorsteps.”
The idea of a mobile van came while Strother was applying for a grant that showed a high social vulnerability index in different census tracts around the city.
Strother recalled working on a similar, but smaller, version of a mobile health clinic in the mid-1990s, while she worked at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
“I’m not aware of anything like this in Mahoning and Trumbull counties,” she said.