Mobile healthcare unit created for community

Range Health will help rural and underserved communities in WA



A child gets treated by a medical professional. John Tomkowiak, College of Medicine dean, said the Health Range does not yet have a schedule or map of how it will be traveling across the state.

KAITLYN TEJERO, Evergreen reporter

The WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine is preparing to launch Range Health, a mobile healthcare unit designed to help rural and underserved communities.

John Tomkowiak, dean of the College of Medicine, said the mobile unit, called a coach, will begin providing service at the beginning of 2020.

He said they are working with the pharmacy and nursing departments to provide this service.

“We’re looking at starting in the first quarter of next year,” he said. “We plan to have a fleet of coaches across the state, eventually serving all 39 counties.”

Luis Manriquez, assistant clinical professor in the College of Medicine, said they conducted a needs assessment with healthcare providers, schools and local organizations.

The Range Health mobile units willl provide students with first-hand healthcare experience, said John Tomkowiak, dean of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

Tomkowiak said right now they are listening to the community, and they have done assessments in Spokane and the surrounding areas.

They are trying to understand what significant healthcare needs are not being met, he said, and how Range Health can help.

“Things that came up were having access to screening for dental, vision as well as diabetic needs,” Manriquez said.

He said in addition to his work, a team of students and James Zimmerman, vice dean of administration, accreditation and finance in the College of Medicine, helped with the needs assessment.

“These students were given a summer job essentially as a research team helping carry out the assessment,” Manriquez said.

Tomkowiak said there are two impacts they hope Range Health will have. The first is providing students with a first-hand look at seeing how health care professionals work together in rural and underserved communities.

The second desired impact is improving access to healthcare across the state, he said.

“When this coach goes out and begins to deliver care, we are going to have interprofessional teams in that coach,” he said. “These will not only include our colleagues but occasionally we will have psychologists, social workers and others on the team.”

He said they have not developed any firm schedule yet or a map of how they will be traveling.