‘Doc-in-a-bus’ still helping uninsured

Published 1:56 am Saturday, November 21, 2009

SELMA — Not having health insurance is not enough of a reason to dismiss illness anymore. The Doc-in-a-bus, organized by the United Way one year ago, is a program that brings UAB Selma family physicians in to aid to members of the community. Services done by the clinic are no cost to patients.

“The people here don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare, or their office doesn’t have medical insurance,” said David Cothran, executive director of the Selma and Dallas County United Way. “We’re totally here for you. If you don’t come here, then we don’t have a reason to exist.”

Although the program was originally run out of a portable trailer, it now is located in the Edmundite Missions building on Broad Street. The facility has the amenities to run tests for CBC, cholesterol, A1C, thyroid levels, liver function, urine analysis and a portable EKG machine.

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“Since we’re able to work here, we’re able to leave everything set up,” Cothran said. Not only does this allow for less setup and breakdown time, but also has more space and private rooms for examination tables. “It’s like your doctor’s office,” Cothran said. “We even send out reminder cards like what I like to call a ‘real’ doctor’s office.”

To date, the clinic has seen more than 600 people during the more than 30 open clinic days. Except for around some of the upcoming holidays, the clinic is open on Fridays. The goal is to have the clinic open every Friday.

Most United Way funding for this program is “in kind,” according to Cothran. Doctors and volunteers offer time at no charge to the program. Total budget for the center is $175,000. The Weaver-Parish grant brings in $10,000 and the Alabama Department of Public Health brings in $43,000. The majority of the remaining costs are made up in volunteer time. “The doctors roll in, do the doctor thing and they roll out,” Cothran said. “We take care of the detail things.”

Between her part-time work with HealthLink, a program which assists people in finding low cost prescriptions, Jacque Johnson enjoys volunteering with Doc-in-a-bus because she loves helping people. “I like to help out the community,’ Johnson said. “I know there’s a need for medical help in Selma. I hope that when and if I need help, they’ll be somebody here for me.”

To schedule an appointment or make a donation, call the United Way center at 874-8383. “We’re like the doctor’s office backroom,” Cothran said. All appointments and scheduling are done through that office.