VAUGHN — Alluvion Health is looking to expand its service footprint in rural Montana, and those efforts took a step forward Tuesday as the Rural Road Show kicked off.
The Great Falls-based nonprofit health center debuted its newly acquired mobile medical clinic in the Big Sky Deli parking lot off Highway 200, offering services such as preventive and primary care, acute and chronic care and treatment for usual.
The mobile medical clinic features three exam rooms where Alluvion can see anywhere from three to six patients per hour depending on need, according to CEO Trista Besich. Alluvion also provided services in its mobile dental unit that houses two exam rooms.
The mobile units use a satellite link so they can serve rural communities where mobile and WiFi signals are not as strong, according to Aid Medical Officer Michael Hall.
Tuesday’s departure was the first of five stops on the Rural Road Show over the next two weeks, with stops planned in Belt, Centerville, Cascade and Choteau. The clinics will operate from 9am to 4pm at each stop and appointments can be made online at the Alluvion website. Walking patients are also accepted.
Alluvion serves about 15,000 unique patients a year, Besich said, and about 30 percent of those travel to Great Falls to access medical services.
“In the last couple of years, we’ve really identified a need to have access to our rural community partners,” Besich said. “So, the last two years we have invested in several mobile units. We started operating (the mobile dental clinic) about two years ago and have done everything from the clinic, from speech exams to sports physicals and vaccinations. And as a result of the increased use of this, we acquired the mobile medical clinic which has three exam rooms, state-of-the-art radiology and sterilization. It’s a really nice unit.”
The health care provider already has a school-based center in Vaughn and opened a location in Choteau last year. Besich said many patients from rural communities have told Alluvion they often put off medical and dental services because of accessibility, going mostly to ERs or urgent care centers as needed.
“Our ability to roll out a mobile clinic allows us to create access to general preventive primary care services and get people back to seeing routine health care as opposed to using the ER or just urgent care,” Besich said. .
In addition to preventive and primary services, the mobile unit can also be used for speech and vision screenings and immunizations.
“Sometimes we’re out just creating access allowing people to meet us and sometimes we’re doing diabetic foot exams or we’re open for routine medical care and (patients) come in for their routine visits,” Besich said. “We do pharmacy and lab as well, so the benefit is we can create access for pharmacy and lab services, as well as medical, dental and behavioral health.”
The goal of the initial Rural Road Show is to allow communities to see the new mobile unit and the services it offers and to introduce Alluvion to those residents, Besich said. Alluvion hopes to increase the number of dates the mobile unit will be available in rural communities and eventually schedule visits.
“Our goal is really to introduce ourselves to the community and let them come check out the mobile units and get to know who we are,” Besich said. “Also, to really kick off as we expand this unit and introduce our mobile autism clinic, we will increase access to diagnostic and therapeutic services for ABA or autism services as well. So this is our way of releasing it to the market.”
The schedule for the rest of the “Rural Road Show” is as follows:
- June 7: Generation to Generation Public Library
- June 8: Centerville Senior Center
- June 13: Cascade Senior and Community Center
- June 15: Rex’s Market in Choteau
To make an appointment or for more information, visit alluvionhealth.org/make-an-appointment or call 406-454-6973.
Photos courtesy of Matt Ehnes of Jared’s Detours.