Fresno County's Department of Public Health launched a rural mobile health program on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2023

Why It matters:

Rural area community leaders and agricultural employers in the county can request a rural health event at no cost, at least two weeks prior to the desired date.

If you are a farmworker or live in the rural areas of Fresno County, you can benefit from Fresno County Department of Public Health’s newly launched Rural Mobile Health Program.

The program provides access to free medical care to farmworkers and other rural residents of Fresno County, according to the program’s website.

What medical services are offered?

The mobile health units offer free services that include influenza and COVID-19 immunizations, COVID-19 tests and treatments, glucose tests, blood pressure and diabetes screenings, plus provide treatment for minor illnesses and medical complications.   

Community health workers will also provide health education and make referrals to nearby primary care providers for individuals who cannot be treated on-site. 

Clinics may be public or private, depending on which agency hosts the event, but all community members are welcome to attend the public clinics. Possession of a California ID or health insurance is not required to attend a clinic. 

The county is currently working with community leaders to conduct regularly scheduled public clinics, according to Dr. Trinidad Solis, deputy health officer of Fresno County’s Department of Public Health. 

Until then, Solis suggests that individuals hoping to attend a clinic check the calendar of mobile health events to see when clinics will be held. 

Rural area community leaders and agricultural employers in the county can request a rural health event at no cost, using this form. Clinics must be requested at least two weeks prior to the desired date. 

Bringing medical care to underserved communities

The new Rural Mobile Health clinic, a partnership between Fresno State’s Mobile Health Unit, UCSF Fresno and Saint Agnes Medical Center, was launched at Terranova Ranch on Tuesday; about 100 people were treated. 

Tuesday’s event served as a press conference for the launch of the program and a private health clinic for employees of Terranova Ranch. 

“We’re happy to be able to bring the county and the healthcare providers here to them where they can access it easily and at no cost,” said Don Cameron, general manager and vice president of Terranova Ranch. 

“These are essential workers. They provide the food that sits on your table at home. These are the people who do the hard work in the field and they’re underappreciated.” 

Dr. Kenny Banh, assistant dean at UCSF Fresno and director of the Mobile Health and Learning Project, explained that this program is critical because of large numbers of agricultural workers and rural residents who are undocumented, uninsured, and have language or cultural barriers that may lead to poor or no healthcare.

“We’re trying to do outreach to them where they’re at – where they work, where they live, where they worship – in order to hit them where they are, get to them, educate them, get them connected to medical services, to try and prevent future outcomes that are worse,” Bahn said at Tuesday’s event.

The two-year program is funded with $8 million of ARPA money allocated by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.  

While the clinic on Tuesday was the first by the Rural Mobile Health Program, it is not the first mobile health event Banh has participated in. 

Banh launched the UCSF-Fresno Health Education and Learning (HEal) mobile clinic in 2019 with the goal of providing healthcare services to underserved communities while offering learning opportunities to pre-health and medical students, according to the program’s website. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fresno County officials partnered with Mobile HEal to provide COVID-19 testing and vaccination to underserved regions in the county. Now, Banh and his team are looking to, once again, contribute to public health on a larger scale. 

Before receiving COVID-19 and ARPA funding, the Mobile HEal team was only able to provide mobile clinic services two to three times a month, Banh said. With this funding, the Rural Mobile Health Program can conduct as many as 20 mobile clinic events a month and serve up to 200 patients each time. 

“[Public health] is important. Keeping people healthy lowers costs, keeps people working,” Banh said. “This is what we need to do, whether you think about it socially or economically.”

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