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Community Coalition Seeks to Increase Health Access Across McLean County

Community Coalition Seeks to Increase Health Access Across McLean County
Health needs assessments demonstrate how some McLean County neighborhoods and communities struggle to access needed services.  In response, local civic leaders and nonprofits have embarked on a growing partnership to improve the health and well-being of local residents.  A new Carle BroMenn mobile health clinic, dedicated to McLean County represents the first step in improving these gaps in local communities.

This coalition aggregated $750,000 in roughly 9 months to fully fund this mobile health clinic, and now the coalition prepares for deployment throughout McLean County later this summer.

Leveraging best practices learned during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way of McLean County (UWMC) and the Tinervin Family Foundation spearheaded a growing partnership with Carle Health, the City of Bloomington, the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA), the Town of Normal, McLean County, and the Western Avenue Community Center (WACC).  This group uses a multi-pronged approach to increase access to care, provide behavioral health services for teens, advance job skills/training for at-risk youth, and expand access to healthy food.

Community health problems are often complex, requiring cross-sector collective action,” said David Taylor, President & CEO of the United Way of McLean County. “This partnership brings public and private stakeholders together to make critical and necessary investments.  The mobile unit provides a flexible tool to bring the services to communities and neighborhoods that need it most. It is our hope that the work we’re engaging in will be a catalyst for more partnerships and change to improve the health of our community for years to come.” 
Taylor expects that other entities will join the efforts to help expand the work to greater scale.

West Bloomington was identified as an initial key area of focus due to higher levels of poverty, declining neighborhood conditions, and limited access to healthy, affordable food and exercise opportunities. In addition, people living in this important part of our community have worse health outcomes for asthma, diabetes, and mental health. An opportunity exists to reduce these disparities with additional preventative health care access and resources.

Western Avenue Community Center stands as a key hub in these efforts.

“The impact of the pandemic on people has been profound – especially on our youth,” WACC Board President Mike Jones, said. “As we emerge from the pandemic, it is particularly important that we step up our efforts to re-engage them. The WACC offers an environment that enables children and young adults to maintain their overall health and well-being, both mentally and physically. These much-needed changes will provide a fun, safe environment as they transition back into post-pandemic life”

An initial key to achieving results in addressing issues of access to healthcare and other services, Carle’s Community Health Initiatives team will also be expanding its Mobile Health Clinic services to the WACC and throughout McLean County to better address health disparities. Carle’s current mobile clinic serves over 3,200 people annually at multiple locations in Champaign, Vermilion and McLean counties. Due to the high needs, partners provided the funding and other resources necessary to introduce a mobile unit dedicated to McLean County.

Similar to the current Mobile Health Clinic, the new state-of-the art clinic will be 40 feet long, be wheelchair accessible, have two examination rooms and a dedicated staff. The team will provide chronic-condition screening and education, treatment of acute illness, basic wellness care and assessments, school physicals, basic lab testing, social support, and work alongside other community partners. The clinic will serve people of all ages.

The new clinic is currently going through quality control, and Carle anticipates beginning operations in early August.

“We are so grateful to our partners in McLean County for recognizing the need and investing in care for underserved families. Together we know our ability to make an impact is limitless,” Carle BroMenn Medical Center President Colleen Kannaday said. “The Mobile Health Clinic is one of the most flexible tools we have in our toolbox to provide direct healthcare access to people where they work, live, and play.”

Once fully operational, this partnership will enhance relationships with social service agencies, schools, local government and others to bring services to families and individuals who need additional support to address their health and social needs.

“I think that it’s phenomenal that we coordinated with all of these partners, and in less than a year, we’ve fully funded and will deliver on a project that creates immediate impact in communities across McLean County,” said Jeff Tinverin, of the Tinervin Family Foundation.  “We’re stronger together.”

Categories: Staying Healthy, Community

Tags: Carle BroMenn Medical Center, Community Health, Community Health Initiatives, Giving, McLean County, Mobile Clinic, Mobile Health Clinic, Partnerships