Health center receives $456K grant for pediatric mobile unit
An almost half-a-million-dollar grant will be used to purchase a mobile pediatric medical unit to serve school kids in Yuma County.
Sunset Community Health Center has been awarded a $456,690 Affordable Care Act Grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration.
The unit and equipment purchased with the grant will be used for the School Healthcare Program, which provides care to uninsured kids in clinics located inside schools throughout the county.
In many cases, these kids have nowhere else to go for basic primary care.
“The unit will allow us to reach all schools in the county. We'll be going to where the children are,” said Sunset spokeswoman Lucy Murrieta.
Sunset has operated the school health clinics since April 2011 with funding from Yuma Regional Medical Center Foundation, HRSA grant funding and Sunset's own general operational funding.
Sunset currently operates school health-care clinics in a small mobile medical van at Pecan Grove Elementary School and Rancho Viejo Elementary School in Yuma, Somerton Middle School, Desert Elementary School in San Luis, Ariz., and schools in the East Valley.
The new bigger mobile unit will allow for more services to these schools.
In addition, the grant will allow Sunset to include more Yuma schools and, in particular, those in the East Valley.
“We'll be targeting the rural areas, such as Dateland and Tacna, where parents can't always take their children to a clinic because of transportation issues,” Murrieta said.
Sunset will be able to bring “high quality, affordable health-care services” to more than 6,000 kids referred by over 45 schools.
The medical mobile unit is also expected to prevent health-related absences and provide support to succeed in the classroom, according to Sunset CEO David Rogers.
“Students perform better when they show up for class, healthy and ready to learn,” Rogers said.
“Parents are comfortable knowing that they can remain at work with the assurance their children are receiving needed health-care services.”
With the money in hand, Murrieta said, Sunset now basically has to work out the design of the vehicle and then seek competitive bids to have it built.
Under that timetable, Sunset hopes to have the unit purchased sometime in late summer and have it on the road serving students in the fall of 2013.
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva congratulated Sunset on the grant. In a letter of support, Grijalva noted that Sunset offers care to the permanent Yuma-area community as well as seasonal and migrant farmworkers speaking both English and Spanish.
“Sunset provides culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate health care and patient advocacy services to the general community as well as the migrant and seasonal farmworker community of Yuma County,” Grijalva said.
“The Sunset School-Based Healthcare Program not only enables children with acute or chronic illness to attend school, but also provides convenient health screenings and access to Sunset CHC clinics for the entire family.”
He added that families in Yuma County face severe economic, socio-cultural and linguistic barriers to health care access.
“Children are the most vulnerable and often go without needed health care. A pediatric mobile unit adequately equipped to provide health care to children in the schools throughout the county would be of great value to the Yuma community,” Grijalva said.
Mara Knaub can be reached at email@example.com or (928) 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.