Geisinger’s mobile health services bus made a stop in Tunkhannock last week to provide important screenings that patients may have missed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bus took a road trip throughout Geisinger’s Pennsylvania service area through July and August.
“We started out in the west by State College and then we went to the central region and now we’re in the northeast,” said Geisinger Director of Ambulatory Care Gaps and Best Practices Nicole Trieste. “Our focus is our vulnerable diabetic population that is overdue for some of the essential screening for diabetes.”
This includes A1C monitoring, as well as nephropathy and retinopathy screenings. Knowing that many patients, especially older populations with chronic health conditions, have been afraid to leave their homes, Trieste said the bus has been a safe and convenient way to provide care.
The bus also offered blood pressure, height and weight checks for patients.
Ahead of the stop at Geisinger’s Tunkhannock clinic, staff members reached out to eligible patients and scheduled them 10 minutes apart for screenings. Only one patient was allowed in the bus at a time, and the event wasn’t open to walk-ins to ensure social distancing.
Around 75 people from the Tunkhannock area had appointments on Aug. 25. The bus was scheduled to stop in Scranton for the next two days, then finish the road trip in Mount Pocono.
“A couple of my teams are helping the staff and it’s been really rewarding for them too,” Trieste said. “They usually work behind the scenes outreaching to patients to get them in for their appointments and this is really the first time that they’ve been able to not only reach out to the patients, but to be a point of care and help directly get those care gaps closed.”
Geisinger Performance Innovation Consultant Dawnell Morgan said these screenings not only focus on prevention, but serve as an early detection tool.
“We had a great turnout and patients love it. They’re very appreciative,” Morgan said. “Almost every patient compliments it and says how nice it is that we’re able to bring it to their community.”
The mobile health services bus isn’t new to Geisinger, but the pandemic has reinforced its usefulness.
“We felt COVID was the perfect opportunity to introduce it more into the community than it had already been used,” Trieste said. “Because we found that the patients really like it and are receptive, it’s definitely something that’s going to be in our long-term plans, COVID or not.”