Norwegian American Hospital & Their Award-Winning Mobile Medical Vehicle Program

May, 2019

Written in collaboration with Gabrielle Sauder DNP, MSN, PNP-BC
Norwegian American Hospital

For organizations wanting to add a mobile medical vehicle to their resources, there are many factors to be mindful of when creating a successful mobile medical program. Gabrielle Sauder DNP, MSN, PNP-BC, the Director of Mobile Services at Norwegian American Hospital in Chicago, shared some of her knowledge for building and maintaining a mobile medical program that truly helps those in underserved communities.

The “Care-A-Van”

For their mobile medical vehicle, Norwegian utilizes a 40-foot LDV-built step van, which has been in service since 2017. This vehicle includes a galley kitchen, custom-fabricated aluminum cabinets, and an electric waterless toilet, among other features. Norwegian’s medical unit, nicknamed the “Care-A-Van,” focuses on pediatric patients and offers the same clinical functions and lab work as a conventional clinic.


“We see close to 20 patients per day.
This equates to around 3,000 to 3,500 children per year
that receive medical care on the vehicle.”

 

Being Prepared

According to Sauder, one of the most important things you can do with your mobile medical vehicle is careful planning and scheduling. This maximizes fuel economy and patient reach. On-board inventory management and vehicle maintenance checks are carried out daily, weekly, and monthly, helping to prevent any disruptions in service.

As Sauder recounted, being in the field means being prepared for the unexpected and there may be times when you or your staff must troubleshoot an issue outside of their medical training. One of the most valuable assets on your mobile medical vehicle is a staff who can seamlessly transition from medical provider to problem-solver.

 

“Multi-tasking extends to our driver as well.
He can perform administrative duties on-site
, provide security,
and be a person that children can feel comfortable talking with.”

 

Sauder also highlighted how Norwegian’s program affords its patients and their parents a valuable benefit with the level of convenience the program provides. The vehicle comes directly to schools and daycares. Having the “Care-A-Van” come to them also means children are among friends and teachers they see every day, keeping them comfortable when they may not be used to attending medical appointments. The novelty of receiving medical services on a vehicle also creates a memorable patient experience for the children, especially if they have never visited a doctor’s office or perhaps had a bad experience in the past.

 

“The vehicle graphics wrap is especially important to our team.
We chose
to display photos of children and young people in our community
on the van, who are frequently recognized by our patients.
This provides both excitement for our patients and eases their anxiety.
We aim to create a safe space where they can speak about their health and address
any concerns with someone who will listen.”

 

The Right Vehicle Builder

For those looking to add a mobile medical vehicle to their organization, Sauder notes how exceptional customer service and support is paramount when choosing your vehicle manufacturer. Obtaining feedback from former customers gives you a sense of how actual customers are treated and serviced. Speaking with former customers also provides unique insights to different layouts and designs when choosing a vehicle platform, as you want to ensure it is comfortable and practical for both the patients and staff utilizing it.

There are numerous aspects to creating and running a successful mobile medical program. As Sauder emphasized, through careful planning and a strong relationship with your vehicle manufacturer, your organization can provide crucial medical services to those most vulnerable in your community with a quality mobile medical vehicle.

Since launching the program, Norwegian American Hospital’s “Care-A-Van” has been recognized with an American Hospital Association NOVA Award that honors effective, collaborative programs focused on improving community health status. Follow the link to learn more about the Norwegian American Hospital Foundation’s Mobile Services.

▶️ For more information on the Norwegian American Hospital “Care-A-Van” CLICK HERE