Whitehall welcomes mobile health unit

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Hudson Headwaters Health Network opened its mobile unit to Whitehall patients on Jan. 14 and the first day was a smash, according to Kristin Waller, mobile medical program leader and medical assistant.

The unit is located at the Whitehall Recreational Center every other Friday.

“We saw five patients, which may not seem like a lot, but we are just getting started,” Waller said. “In addition to seeing new patients, we were also able to hand out quite a few home rapid (test) kits to community members. We enjoyed starting to get to know people in the area.”

Waller also said the unit was something patients weren’t quite expecting.

“The immediate feedback was wonderful! People see this giant RV pull in and have their doubts, but when they are on the unit, they forget they are on wheels and not in a traditional office setting,” she said.

“We have everything we need to provide the care they expect from Hudson Headwaters, and we strive to make it as easy as possible to schedule, check in, and be seen. We are very excited to be there, and I feel our patients could tell.”

Pandemic numbers have been rising in a winter surge specific to the Covid variants Delta and Omicron. Waller said the mobile is equipped and ready to help community members who might be wondering if they have come in contact with the virus or have symptoms.

“We have the ability to test for Covid on the unit and can send out PCR tests as well. We have had multiple Covid vaccine clinics and look to continue that in the future. When a Covid vaccination clinic is scheduled, we will post it on our website (hhhn.org/coronavirus) for patients to schedule electronically.”

The unit can treat “a myriad of conditions” and is looking to research the biggest needs of the area, Waller said. She said that knowing what Whitehall needs is something that will come with time, but the service can do more than some might think in the tricked-out RV.

“Family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, child services, immunizations, screenings, gynecological care, voluntary family planning, care management, and health education,” Waller said.

“In addition, we are able to complete a lot of point-of-care tests as well. We can do urine screenings, glucose, hemoglobin, hemoglobin A1Cs, EKGs, blood pressure checks, gynecological tests, Covid screenings, drug screening, pregnancy testing, mono, strep, flu A and B, and draw labs during their visit, at the request of our provider, Christine Calistri who is a family nurse practitioner. Our unit is handicap accessible as well.”

If community members are unable to make it to the unit, there are still options for health care by the unit. Telehealth has become popular during the pandemic, and Hudson Headwaters offers that choice to patients, no matter if they can get to the unit or not.

“We would recommend having patients call our office to discuss what options we have to provide them with care,” Waller said.

The unit is scheduled to be at the Rec again on Friday, Jan. 28, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Any community members who are interested in learning more or have any questions about HHHN can call 518-761-1378.

“The community needs access to health care, so it seems like we’re already heading in the right direction,” Waller said. “The more we learn about the community from people in the community, the better we will be at meeting their needs.”