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CAPSLO's new mobile clinic brings care to remote SLO County areas 

A 25-foot box truck is the site for sexual wellness and reproductive health care as it travels to the far reaches of San Luis Obispo County to assist homeless people and lower-income community members.

Equipped with an exam room, a little laboratory, and an education and counseling space, the vehicle, dubbed Health Care on Wheels, is the Center for Health and Prevention's newest mobile clinic. The center is a Community Action Partnership of SLO County (CAPSLO) program, and it launched the clinic on April 13 at its brick-and-mortar Arroyo Grande location.

Clinic Director Kayla Wilburn told New Times on April 11 that mobile clinic rollout stemmed from the center's search for ways to serve residents living in the rural and underserved sections of the county.

click to enlarge SERVES ALL The Health Care on Wheels mobile clinic provides sexual and reproductive health resources to underserved groups like housed low-income residents, homeless individuals, and farmworkers. - COURTESY PHOTO BY YURTIZIA ARELLANO
  • Courtesy Photo By Yurtizia Arellano
  • SERVES ALL The Health Care on Wheels mobile clinic provides sexual and reproductive health resources to underserved groups like housed low-income residents, homeless individuals, and farmworkers.

"We have had feedback from patients who travel from as far as Shandon and San Miguel to our clinics to get care, that there are limited resources in their communities," she said. "Rather than seeking funds to open brick-and-mortar facilities, which are so much more costly to pay for the overhead and leasing space, ... we started to explore mobile units that might help us to meet those needs of the communities."

The center purchased the mobile clinic truck with $200,000 of a $500,000 grant from designated American Rescue Plan Act funds awarded to SLO County in 2022. Arizona-based Magnum Mobile Specialty Vehicles created the truck—which also provided the truck for SLO Noor Foundation's clinic.

"There are pocket doors that close for privacy," Wilburn said. "For folks who need assistance getting onto the vehicle, we have an ADA lift that lifts right on to the exam room."

Inside, clients can receive resources including all birth control methods, emergency contraception Plan B, internal and external condoms, dental dams, HIV pre- and post-exposure medication, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, Gardasil vaccines, pregnancy testing, counseling, referrals, pap tests, breast exams, rapid HIV and hepatitis C testing, menopausal services, and even free Narcan.

Privacy and confidentiality are import for the mobile clinic program. Once potential patients fill out their paperwork outside the truck, they step into the clinic, and its doors close for complete seclusion.

"It's an interesting balance we have to strike," Wilburn said. "We realize we're rolling up and parking and having people come to us. So, we haven't decided about publishing an actual schedule outside the locations where we will be scheduling to be."

Find the mobile clinic at the Paso Robles Housing Authority's Oak Park Public Housing every first and third Wednesday from 1 to 5:30 p.m. The clinic will be on-site at CAPSLO's 40 Prado services center every Friday starting in May. The center is working with the 5Cities Homeless Coalition (5CHC) to figure out a regular time to visit and serve the homeless encampments in South County. The group is in talks with People's Self-Help Housing to pinpoint locations where housed low-income residents can access clinic care.

"We are looking for ways to specifically serve the farm-working communities because we realize they are impacted by long work weeks, long work hours, transportation issues," Wilburn said.

The mobile clinic doesn't accept private insurance and focuses on people enrolled in Medicare to ensure it specifically provides resources to underserved groups.

Clinic staff members are bilingual and include a nurse practitioner and two medical assistants—one of whom draws blood for testing.

"We don't currently have anyone who speaks the indigenous languages so we're working with the Promotores [Collaborative] and MICOP [Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project] to provide those translation services," Wilburn said.

Now, the center is hoping to roll the mobile clinic into sites like 5CHC's Cabins for Change and the ECHO Shelter in Paso Robles where its hosted pop-up clinics in the past. Nipomo is also an area of interest.

For more questions, contact Wilburn at (805) 544-2498, Ext. 121.

Fast fact

• Celebrate Arroyo Grande High School's new culinary building through a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 23 at 9 a.m. Culinary students will serve treats at the 495 Valley Road facility tour. Δ

Reach Staff Writer Bulbul Rajagopal at [email protected].

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