History & Patients We Serve
Mobile Medical Care History
In 1968, Dr. Herman “Arnold” Meyersburg and Dr. George Cohen (pictured to the right) were colleagues at Hillcrest Pediatric Center in Washington, D.C., where Dr. Meyersburg was a staff psychiatrist and Dr. Cohen was an attending pediatrician. Committed to the community, they volunteered their time tutoring poor children. Their parents often held jobs that did not offer health insurance, so for these families, access to healthcare just seemed out of reach. Concerned about the lack of healthcare services available to these families, the two doctors invited medical colleagues and community activists to a meeting at Dr. Meyersburg’s house to address the problem. From that meeting, MobileMed was born.
It was Dr. Meyersburg’s dream to have a mobile medical clinic but obtaining a vehicle was initially difficult. The complementary idea was for MobileMed “to go to places where local stakeholders would meet us halfway” by providing space and someone to function as the clinic registrar, thus forming collaborative partnerships with the local community. Today’s MobileMed continues to leverage this principle – both with mobile medical vans (yes, we obtained them in the past 15 years) and with our fixed sites, our clinic network is accessible to those in need and our partners enhance our outreach capacity for hard-to-reach populations.
Over 50 years later, MobileMed’s vision remains incredibly relevant, delivering accessible primary healthcare for low-income residents who might otherwise go without timely care. Dr. Cohen (who was an active supporter of MobileMed), once said that MobileMed always faced the same challenges: having enough resources, be it volunteers or funding, to staff and support the general operations of the clinics. Though this may still be the case, recent years have brought new challenges and opportunities: Montgomery County’s changing demographics with most growth from immigrants, the increasing complexity of primary care, and the rising cost of treatments and medications. MobileMed’s service delivery plan and organizational competencies continue to reflect and respond to these issues.
In August, 2015, MobileMed was awarded a multi-year federal grant, designating us as an FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center).
As the first FQHC based entirely in Montgomery County, we will be able to greatly expand our community impact. We look forward to the opportunity to serve more individuals in need; stimulate program development and enhance services; and extend outreach to underserved populations.
With the help of its many supporters and friends, MobileMed continues to make high quality, comprehensive, cultural competent and affordable healthcare available to the low-income residents of Montgomery County.
The Patients We Serve
Our patient population faces enormous barriers to healthcare access: finances, insurance coverage, language, educational level, health literacy, transportation, cultural constraints and differences, and general life stresses. Even with implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), newly covered individuals face big access challenges and many people remain ineligible. MobileMed has always been passionate about increasing access to healthcare by working to mitigate those barriers.
MobileMed patients are among the most vulnerable in Montgomery County. They are under 250% of the federal poverty level, come from over 100 countries, and speak 25 languages. Our patient population is predominantly minority (43% Hispanic, 31% Black or African American, 13% Asian).
Culturally sensitive and language-appropriate care for all of our patients is key to MobileMed’s delivery model. Within our primary care program, we conduct language-specific clinics in French and Korean, and incorporate Spanish at most locations. We have made a concerted effort to have our staff mirror the evolving, multi-cultural make-up of the community, and we seek to make our basic forms and patient education materials available in multiple languages.
While individuals are often initially drawn to MobileMed to receive care for an acute illness, we offer them a medical home. A disproportionate number of our patients suffer from multiple chronic conditions including diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. For these individuals, monitoring and proactively managing their chronic conditions is critical.
Regular primary and preventive care can prevent or slow progression of chronic conditions. It also increase the likelihood that serious issues are diagnosed early, when they are more treatable, improving health outcomes and reducing inappropriate use of hospital emergency rooms.