Care-A-Van Outreach Program
One way that St. Dominic’s reaches beyond its hospital walls and into the community is through its Care-A-Van outreach program. With health prevention as its focus, this 42-foot mobile screening bus travels throughout Central Mississippi conducting both screenings and education programs for school-age children and the elderly.
In segments of the community where there is an identified need, the Care-A-Van targets both city and county public and parochial schools plus Boys and Girls Clubs conducting basic health screenings. The majority of the children screened come from families who don’t have access, or do not utilize available preventive health care resources. A typical screening for these groups includes checks for vision and hearing problems, appropriate height and weight, blood pressure and scoliosis. When potential health problems are found, both the school and parents are notified so that appropriate referrals and proper treatment can be given.
Although numerous referrals are made each year for follow-up care, none are nearly as serious as one in 2004, where a simple Care-A-Van screening on a four-year-old revealed an unusually high blood pressure. He was immediately referred to his pediatrician who, along with specialists, discovered a rare aortic defect. Left undetected, this condition could have led to more serious heart problems.
As part of its mission to assist the elderly, the Care-A-Van provides blood pressure checks at nine senior adult community centers each month and another screening or an educational program is provided at each center monthly. In addition, the Care-A-Van serves annually as a first aid station at the Mississippi Senior Olympics, at a large local flea market, faith-based community health fairs and other community events where large numbers of people are present.
Each year the Care-A-Van program records over 12,000 direct contacts with children and senior adults at risk for health problems. These contacts represent over 2,000 hours of service from the Care-A-Van staff and volunteers.