Helping one another in the community is how we’ll get through the COVID-19 pandemic. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and The Caring Foundation of Texas (CFT) are teaming up to help provide underserved communities in the El Paso area with access to preventive and primary care right in their neighborhoods.
In 2019, the CFT, who’s lead sponsor is Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, generously donated the full-time, exclusive use of a Care Van mobile health unit to TTUHSC El Paso to address the great need for access to health care in the Paso del Norte region.
The van is currently being used by the Foster School of Medicine’s Mobile Medical Student Run Clinic (MSRC), Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso clinics and other departments within the university. The Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic, where future Hunt School of Dental Medicine students will train, will also use the Care Van when the clinic opens to the public.
In late 2020, the CFT committed additional funding to TTUHSC El Paso which will be used to support Care Van-related activities and programs that have an immediate impact in battling the pandemic. This includes:
- Purchasing equipment for the Care Van, including a blood pressure cuff and monitor, testing supplies and a disinfectant sprayer for sanitization. These items will be used during outreach events and will help keep students and community members safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- providing funding to cover stipends for students, as well as outreach kits. The students will assist with educational outreach and response to COVID-19 and other health issues affecting underserved Borderland residents.
Students will be going out with promotoras – bilingual community health care workers – in the field to learn from them and add their medical knowledge to the outreach activities.
The CFT pays all costs associated with the Care Van’s use, including insurance, maintenance, tolls and gas.
TTUHSC El Paso’s Care Van provides quality health care while promoting the university’s mission of improving the lives of people in our community by focusing on the unique health care needs of the border population through education, research and patient care.
The communities and colonias served by the mobile clinic are located in the Montana Vista and Sparks areas just outside El Paso city limits. Vaccination services offered by the mobile clinic, with help from Immunize El Paso, are especially important because parents can have infants and young children vaccinated early, rather than waiting until they begin school.
In addition to services offered by the MSRC, the mobile clinic will carry out medical education, conduct cancer screenings and administer vaccinations for human papillomavirus (HPV), along with other services. HPV vaccinations are crucial for protecting teenagers and young adults from HPV infections, which can lead to cervical and other types of cancer.
Prior to COVID-19’s effects in our community and world, there was a host of health-related activities planned for the Care Van. But during the pandemic and certainly with the advent of COVID-19 vaccinations, helping this community to understand how to prevent the virus’ spread and why getting the COVID-19 vaccinations are so important. The Care Van can be driven to underserved neighborhoods and utilized as an immunization access point.
The Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic, scheduled to open later this year, will use the van initially to offer cleanings, screenings and fluoride treatments, with the eventual goal of providing cavity filling procedures and other services.