PORTLAND, Ore. — Kaiser Permanente of the Northwest and Medical Teams International are rolling out an innovative new initiative — Kaiser Permanente Care & Connect — that will provide mobile health care services to marginalized populations throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Kaiser Permanente Care & Connect will initially offer 51 mobile clinics across Oregon and Southwest Washington, providing individuals and families who have low incomes or no health insurance with dental care, preventive screenings, and connections to ongoing services at no cost. The program aims to increase access and delivery of these services to people in underrepresented communities who often face barriers and are most affected by health disparities.
At these mobile clinics, patients can receive emergency dental services, including restorations and extractions, fluoride and sealants, and referrals for low-cost specialty services. Medical care offered will include treatment for conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, mental health screenings, COVID-19 vaccinations, and referrals to primary care. The clinics will also assist with scheduling appointments and help uninsured individuals and families with Medicaid eligibility screenings and enrollment.
Supporting communities of color
“The pandemic has affected everyone, but communities of color and people with no insurance have been hit particularly hard. Kaiser Permanente believes everyone deserves access to compassionate quality care,” said Jeff Collins, regional president of Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest. “Our partnership with Medical Teams International and local community-based organizations hosting these clinics will allow us to visit communities with the greatest need, helping to break down barriers by meeting patients where they are and providing the individual care they need.”
“We are thrilled to continue our mobile health partnership with Kaiser Permanente,” said Cindy Breilh, Medical Teams executive director of U.S. programs. “We believe that taking health care directly to people in most need will lower a number of critical barriers they experience in trying to access care.“
Kaiser Permanente Care & Connect builds upon the success of Kaiser Permanente’s and Medical Teams’ most recent initiative: mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics. These mobile clinics focus on providing access to vaccinations to rural communities and people most affected by health disparities. In 2021 alone, 12,153 vaccinations were administered through 398 community-based clinics across Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest.
Addressing social health needs
In addition to dental and medical care services, Kaiser Permanente Care & Connect will help address a person’s psychosocial health, including food security and housing needs, through partnerships with community-based organizations using Connect Oregon and Unite Washington. Kaiser Permanente is planning to grant 14 community-based and culturally specific organizations with $20,000 each to help host the clinics and support referral work in their local community.
Currently, there are 51 mobile clinics planned over the next 6 months with stops in Clackamas, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Washington, and Lane Counties in Oregon. Washington counties include Cowlitz, Clark, and additional southwest Washington counties. Kaiser Permanente and Medical Teams expect additional clinics will be added as the program gets underway.
The efficacy of mobile clinics was recently highlighted by Harvard Medical School’s Mobile Health Map. Their report titled “The Case for Mobile Health” explores how mobile clinics have proven their ability to address some of the most complex problems faced by disadvantaged communities in rural areas and urban neighborhoods. Mobile health programs have shown that they achieve good patient outcomes, show impressive returns on investment, and reach underserved communities that may not be effectively reached by traditional health care delivery models.
About Medical Teams International
Founded in 1979, Medical Teams International provides life-saving medical care for people in crisis, such as survivors of natural or man-made disasters, and refugees. We care for the whole person— physical, emotional, social and spiritual. Daring to love like Jesus, we serve all people—regardless of religion, nationality, sex or race. Learn more at medicalteams.org and on social media using @medicalteams.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.6 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.