Doc on a Bus to expand

Published 12:45 am Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Family Doc in the Bus program celebrated its one-year anniversary with a luncheon at the Saint James Hotel and an announcement that will impact Dallas County’s uninsured.

The free clinic offered by the program is ready for expand to its new location at 1432 Broad St. The clinic will also switch from a bi-weekly schedule to a weekly one.

“That is going to be a significant improvement for our patients in regard to ease of getting an appointment and privacy,” said Ward 3 Councilwoman Dr. Monica Newton. “We find that this program enables people who have no insurance to have a medical home.”

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Newton said the expansion was encouraged by the Alabama Family Practice Rural Health Board, a sponsor.

“They were the impetus behind expanding the program,” said Newton. “They looked at what kind of return they were getting on their investment for helping offset the cost of these doctors and training.”

The board’s show of faith is provides a good indication of the impact the program has had in its inaugural year.

Jeff Cothran, executive director of the United Way of Selma and Dallas County, said before the program was created, there was a segment of the area’s population, most not poor enough to qualify for government programs or wealthy enough to pay for medical care, forced to do without.

“This program stepped in to fill that gap,” said Cothran. “The frightening thing is, when you see how many people come to our clinic, you see how many people there are in our community who fall in that gap.”

The program is staffed by volunteers from the community and faculty from UAB Selma Family Medicine.

“The Selma Family Medicine Residency program and practice is a true asset to the community,” said Evelyn Jones, director of development for the UAB School of Medicine. “This program is just one example of the tremendous impact these practices and these programs have on their communities.”

The clinic’s services include preventative health evaluations, annual female exams, diabetes testing and management, EKG, urinalysis, pulmonary function tests, kidney function tests, testing for strep throat, CBC-blood count, pregnancy testing, HIV testing, thyroid testing and lipid profile.

“We recognize that without early screening and prevention, patients that are uninsured are more likely to die from not only chronic illness, but also cancer,” said Newton. “We find that this program enables people who have no insurance to have a medical home.

“What we offer is a doctor, somebody they can see regularly and routinely.”