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Mobile Health Central hits the road to Flint

Faculty, students joined local partners to provide health screenings for seniors

Contact: Gary H. Piatek

​​​​​​​​Faculty and students from Central Michigan University traveled to Flint Tuesday to host a senior health fair in collaboration with The Ivy House, Brennan Senior Center, Genesee County Health Department and other local partners. The health fair was the latest stop for Mobile Health Central​ — a vehicle designed as a multidisciplinary mobile clinic that is the first of its kind for a university in Michigan.​

"Mobile Health Central gives us the chance to increase access to health care in rural and other underserved communities that face obstacles," said Tracy Speier, outreach coordinator for Mobile Health Central. "We are able to work in partnership with community residents to identify specific needs and gaps in service and then bring those services directly to them."

The event also was an opportunity for CMU students from The Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions​, ​CMU College of Medicine, and the College of Education and Human Services​ to get guided, hands-on experience. Approximately 70 volunteers, including students, faculty and staff from CMU, Mid Michigan Community College and the Genesee County Health Department, served more than 100 residents during the four-hour health fair.

As seniors moved through Mobile Health Central and the Brennan Senior Center gymnasium, CMU students — who worked under the close guidance of faculty — helped residents complete their health history and provided basic screenings. The screenings included checking for diabetes symptoms, skin cancer, blood pressure levels, balance inequities, hearing loss and glaucoma. Students and faculty spoke with residents about nutrition and presented a healthy recipe demonstration. The Genesee County Health Department also was on hand to conduct lead testing.

"We are stronger when we work together​.​"

 Crystal Pendergrass, a junior from Lake City​​

"With Mobile Health Central, we get experience in different communities. We are also able to make the screening process faster," said Lindsay Bitterman, a CMU doctoral student from Flushing studying audiology.

Crystal Pendergrass, a CMU junior from Lake City, was a member of the committee of faculty, staff, administrators and local representatives who coordinated the visit. She said the experience, as well as other CMU volunteer trips to Flint last semester, have helped her shape her future career and fulfill her dream to give back to fellow Michiganders.

"We are stronger when we work together," Pendergrass said. "It is exciting to see our colleges and the local community come together."

Volunteers from The Ivy House of Flint and the local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha helped register participants and distributed their handmade fruit baskets. The Brennan Senior Center also served lunch to all participants. Additional partners and supporters of the health fair included the Flint Mayor's Office, Genesee County Commissioner Brenda Clack, Kroger Co., CMU Public Radio and Dr. Thomas V. Claringbold.

Mobile Health Central was created through a grant from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation​. Mobile Health Central — which is approximately 39 feet in length — is fully-customized with a soundproof booth for hearing and audiology testing, an exam table, and other equipment needed to provide access to high-quality health care in rural and other underserved areas throughout the state.​

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