Mobile Medical Ministry
The St. Luke's Mobile Medical Ministry RV is a 34-foot trailer that was converted into a mobile clinic.
For many people of low income, getting medical care can be a complicated and costly process, but St. Luke's Mobile Medical Ministry is working to change that.
St. Luke’s is an outreach program created by the Episcopal Churches in northwest Louisiana. It was run by a group of volunteers until 2011, when they hired their first part-time director, Brenda Nims, a registered nurse with a master's degree in public health.
The ministry seeks to improve the health of the under-served in northwest Louisiana. They provide preventive screenings, basic health services, patient education, and onward referrals, according to Nims, and all of their services are free. “While our services are available to anyone that comes on the van, we target the uninsured working poor, low-income rural, homeless populations, groups that often don't have access to regular health care,” Nims said.
The ministry began in 2008 when Father Ken Cooper, an Episcopal priest in Shreveport, realized that there were a lot of people in the community who couldn’t get the medical care they needed. “He saw the unmet health needs of the under-served in our community and the surrounding rural areas, and donated the medical RV to begin the ministry,” Nims said.
The medical RV is a 34-foot trailer that was converted into a mobile clinic. Nims said the vehicle has its own exam room, used for medical consultations and breast exams, and two screening areas in the front where they do preventive screenings, lab work, and patient education.
“The advantage of the mobile medical van is that we can go out into communities where people live and work and bring that medical attention to them,” Nims said. “[We’re] breaking down many of the barriers that prevent them from accessing health care, including lack of transportation, money, and knowledge of how to navigate the health care system.”
They focus most of their health screenings on the chronic diseases that affect the community the most, such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and women's health.
“By detecting and treating chronic diseases early on, we can save the client from many of the long-term complications of the disease,” Nims said. “We spend time with clients, helping them understand their health and ways to prevent and manage these chronic diseases.”
From there, they help their clients connect with other community resources in order to get the on-going care they need.
The community has responded well to the ministry’s efforts, Nims said. They have received support, “both in the number of individuals that seek our services and the wonderful support of local foundations, churches, and individuals.”
By Jasmine A. Thrash