By Jim Bloch
The People’s Clinic for Better Health will redirect $306,739 in American Rescue Plan Act funds from the city of Port Huron to purchase a pop-up mobile clinic and to fund related items, including manpower, to operate the clinic.
The city council approved the People’s Clinic’s amended ARPA proposal at its regular meeting Sept. 11.
The council originally had approved the clinic’s plan to use $500,000 in ARPA money to hire additional staff, provide transportation to the clinic, increase advertising for the facility and to expand its footprint to provided additional exam rooms.
The People’s Clinic is located in the St. Clair County Community Mental Health building at 3111 Electric Avenue, Port Huron.
The clinic will purchase a 2023 Ford E350 rear-wheel drive customized van that has been outfitted with separate exam and blood draw rooms from Tesco Specialty Vehicles, LLC, of Oregon, OH for $232,500.
The vehicle includes an exam table and wheelchair lift for the exam room and a refrigerator and blood draw chair in the blood draw room, a separate bathroom and two power airflow vents.
The mobile clinic is designed to accommodate a driver and a passenger.
A number of expenses related to the operation of the vehicle bring the total cost to over $300,000: Graphics, $10,000; nine-foot power awning with LED lights, $3,900; a Welch/Allyn diagnostic board, $2,900; insurance, $6,847; a Shelter-Tech SP series shelter to store the vehicle, $9,952; employee wages, $24,000; gas, $2,000; routine maintenance, include winterization and de-winterization, $10,000; and medical equipment, $5,000.
“The thought behind the unit is to have the vehicle parked at community agencies and partner locations to provide routine healthcare screenings,” said Mallory Moore, director of the Lake Huron Foundation, which oversees the clinic, in a letter to the city council. “This will bring awareness to the community of the People’s Clinic for Better Health … The individuals will be able to receive their services at the agency where parked and then meet with People’s Clinic staff in the mobile clinic… Over the years, the Clinic has found that going to an appointment for the first time can be intimidating. This is an opportunity for the patient to get familiar with the provider and ease the transition from mobile clinic to head office.”
According to Moore, the portable clinic, with its new graphics, will act as its own mobile billboard.
“The target market we’re trying to reach is someone who is using community services who may not have healthcare as a priority,” said Moore.
The clinic provides basic healthcare to adults who are under-insured and uninsured, people on Medicaid and individuals who receive services through CMH.
“This is actually very exciting,” said City Manager James Freed, as heard on the recording of the meeting posted on the city’s website. “It’s pretty innovative, pretty outside-the-box.”
Mayor Pauline Repp asked when the clinic expects delivery of the vehicle.
“I was advised that they have a rig on the lot and ready to be delivered,” said Freed.
The final vote was 4-0. Repp abstained, citing her board membership on the foundation. Council members Anita Ashford and Jeff Pemberton were absent.
Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at email@example.com.