A mobile medical unit that was put into service in 2014 by North Big Horn Hospital is now an integral part of wellness services offered through the hospital district.
“The mobile unit is literally a clinic room on wheels,” explained NBHH Facility Operations Coordinator Nick Lewis, who manages the schedule of the unit. “It has a waiting area, a phlebotomy station and a private room for exams. We can custom design programs to meet a company’s needs from employee physicals to hearing tests to flu shots and more. We even have a Wi-Fi hot spot on board that we can use to download federal and other forms that are required for some work-related exams.”
Lewis said state-of-the-art equipment recently purchased also allows the hospital to keep a record of individual employee test results. He said the permanent record is especially helpful for employers who may need to monitor hearing loss, pulmonary fitness and other test results. Lewis said, with the newly acquired equipment, medical staff can test up to four employees at once in several different languages. He said the unit also offers mask fit testing to ensure employees who are required to wear special protective masks on the job are protected from airborne particles and debris they are exposed to in the work environment.
In December, the mobile unit conducted a comprehensive wellness screening of all employees at a local bentonite plant. It was the first comprehensive, customized program conducted by the unit.
“There are a lot of employers in the area that can use this kind of service,” said Lewis, “like school districts, fire departments and certainly all types of industrial operations.”
Lewis said the mobile unit has been used so far to conduct DOT physicals, to give more than 300 flu shots every season, to conduct sports physicals, audiology tests, wellness blood draws and to teach first aid and CPR. It has even been used as a standby vehicle at large community events.
“So far the feedback from businesses has been very positive,” said Lewis. “The more success stories we have, the more referrals we get.”
Lewis said the unit has conducted wellness services throughout the county and beyond, giving DOT physicals in Riverton and conducting classes for U.S. Park Services employees in Hardin, Mont.
The unit, which cost $168,820, was purchased entirely with grant funds through a Wyoming Primary Care Association grant from the Wyoming Office of Rural Health. Most of the supplies and costs are paid for during the first three years of use, through the grant. The recent added upgrades were also paid for through a $25,000 grant.
Industrial plants in the area are already taking advantage of the convenience of on-site services, using the unit to conduct special screenings and physicals required for industrial workers. Depending on the service being offered, the unit is sometimes manned with a medical provider from the clinic. At other times, a nurse mans it.
Lewis has been managing the schedule of the unit for about 2½ years. He said he has seen use of the unit grow and evolve to meet the needs of the community.
“We’re willing to think outside the box,” said Lewis. “Sometimes that means coming up with a custom clinic to meet the needs of our clients.”
By Patti Carpenter