WSU mobile clinic saving rural residents hundreds of dollars

SPRAGUE, Wash. — There are about 440 people in the small town of Sprague, all without a single doctor to care for them. That’s where a $400,000 healthcare bus comes in to save lives, as well as time and money.

“This whole town, there’s so many senior citizens here that we can’t drive ourselves just to get a physical,” Dorothy Giddings said.

Giddings shares the concern of many people in Sprague – especially senior citizens. It’s getting harder by the day for people like her to just get a routine check-up.

“For one thing, just to get an appointment, it’s usually two or three months ahead of time and then when you get there, sometime’s the doctor’s not there and it’s almost an impossible thing,” Giddings said.

She’s not alone.

A needs assessment done by Washington State showed transportation and cost of healthcare as the biggest concerns for rural towns like Sprague.

“You definitely just say, ‘Well I can get by until next month or next week,'” Giddings said.

So, WSU brought the doctor’s office to them – in the form of a mobile clinic.

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“Pretty much anything you do in a primary practice care unit, you can do on this mobile unit,” Medical Director Dr. Luis Menriquez said.

Anything from stitches to routine blood work; this healthcare bus covers just about any non-emergency treatment. And to top it all off, it’s free. They will bill a patient’s insurance if they’re covered – but if someone isn’t, then the bill is covered as charity.

“Just saving $50 is a big thing when you’re on a fixed income. $50 means a lot to these people here,” Giddings said.

The college benefits, too, with medical students getting the first-hand experience they need.

This is the first mobile-unit from the college, but they said the hope is to get four of these running in different parts of the state.