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On the road to good health; Van brings care to patients.

Byline: Lynne Klaft

FITCHBURG - Folks in Green Acres, Wallace Towers, and Main Street can now avail themselves of medical treatment that will come to them in the form of a doctor's office on wheels.

"We call her `Maggie'," said family nurse practitioner Rosemarie Spaulding of the 40-foot mobile health van that brings medical attention to seven sites in Fitchburg, Leominster, Gardner and Winchendon every week.

The idea behind ACTION - Accessible, Comprehensive Treatment In Our Neighborhoods - Health Service's mobile medical and dental vans is to bring services to the people who really need them, people who might not be able to travel to or access services in the normal course of events.

"We see folks who haven't seen a doctor in 20 to 30 years and we see newborns. We do everything from soup to nuts - chronic disease management, newborn immunizations, back-to-school check-ups, well-woman checks, ear infections, strep throat, you name it," Ms. Spaulding said.

ACTION Health Service's mobile vans are one of four health centers run by Community Health Connections Inc. The other centers include the Family Health Center in Fitchburg, the Greater Gardner Community Health Center and the Leominster Community Health Center.

The mobile health van, staffed by two nurses and a case management worker, travels to seven locations.

Another van, which provides dental care, is stationed at the Clark in Winchendon. The vans serve children and adults who are living in public housing, homeless or in unstable housing situations.

"Homelessness has so many meanings," said Stacey Auger, assistant director of ACTION. "A person could be homeless and living with family or friends. Whatever the barriers are to access to medical services, we are here to help. Even the name, homeless, might have been a barrier, so we changed that, too."

The mobile health vans are equipped to serve as many basic medical needs as possible. When people need more medical attention, they are referred to services elsewhere by the staff on board.

"The services are well-used, walk-ins are a big part, but appointments have been scheduled and people have returned. We have incredible staff who are dedicated to this mission and giving excellent care and the people have responded," Ms. Auger said.

Ms. Spaulding wears multiple hats on board `Maggie.' She drives her from location to location and does medical checkups and paperwork.

"The important thing is continuity of care, getting involved with the person to make sure they come back. We do not dispense or prescribe narcotics, if there is such a need - we refer them - there are very few medicines on board," Ms. Spaulding said.

The nurse does throat cultures, wellness checks, hands out educational material and performs glucose screenings and blood pressure testing.

Katie LeBlanc, the case management staff member, helps patients fill out forms and applications necessary to that continuity of care described by Ms. Spaulding.

The community health service is breaking many barriers, like language and transportation, with their community partners.

"We see a lot of seniors, too. Some of them have transportation problems, Medicare issues, things that we can help with. We've been welcomed with open arms, there, too," Ms. Auger said.

For more information on the mobile health and dental van schedules and locations, land-based sites and services offered, call (978) 878-8110 or send an e-mail to Martha Rivera at

Mobile medical unit stops

Faith United Parish, 820 Main St., Fitchburg: Tues. 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

Ginny's Thrift Shop, 52 Mechanic St., Leominster: Wed. 9 a.m.-12 noon

Green Acres, 60 Normandy Rd., Fitchburg: Wed. 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

GVNA Community Service Ctr., 35 Main St., Fitchburg: Thurs. 9 a.m.-12 noon

Wallace Towers, 54 Wallace Ave., Fitchburg: Thurs. 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

Olde English Village, 120 Manca Dr., Gardner: Fri. 9 a.m.-12 noon

Clark Memorial YMCA, 155 Central St., Winchendon: Fri. 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.


CUTLINE: Licensed practical nurse Massiel Colon perches in the van's window with Jennifer Rodriguez and Jakob Smith.

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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Sep 11, 2008
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