NORTH ORANGE COUNTY: Mobile Services Program Helps Uninsured
To help North Orange County's low-income, uninsured families, the St. Jude Medical Center mobile health services program has been offering residents free medical treatment for 12 years, the Los Angeles Times reports. Customized medical trailers staffed by a team of 20 nurse practitioners, registered nurses and health technicians visit sites in Brea, Placentia, Fullerton and La Habra four days per week to provide services ranging from checkups and immunizations to prenatal care. Established in 1988, the mobile medical program was originally designed to provide care for children. In 1990, the program began offering prenatal care and education to women enrolled in Medi-Cal, and last year, the program was expanded to treat adults. While free health care is a necessity for some residents, funding has limited the program to treat about 11,000 residents per year. In June, St. Jude was forced to tighten its budget, cutting funding for the mobile program by 60%, to $2.2 million. As a result, services were reorganized and five employees were laid off. In addition, patients now are asked to pay the first $10 of any prescription, and the program now accepts patient donations. Chris Burke, the program's outreach services director, said of the cuts, "[W]e will continue to provide services to the community -- we'll just do it smarter and more efficiently" (Newton, 8/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.