Published in the North Pacific Union Gleaner, Summer 1996
By Sam Vigil Jr.
As a result of forming partnerships with community and business organizations and medical center departments, Portland Adventist Medical Center with its Healthvan has been able to serve people who otherwise might not be able to get valuable health services.
For the last three years PAMC's Healthvan has been providing free and low-cost testing and screenings at shopping centers, social and community service centers, community events, schools and job sites, according to Healthvan Coordinator Lonna C....
The testing and screenings include blood pressure testing, body fat analysis, cholesterol screening, stroke screening done in partnership with PAMC's Vascular Lab staff, and lung function tests done in partnership with PAMC's Pulmonary Department staff. The on-board computer provides comprehensive health risk profiles for heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, stress and nutrition.
"The Healthvan allows us to go where people are with tools to provide education and information about an individual's well-being," says PAMC President Larry D.... "The more people are aware of their risk factors, the more they can make efforts to reduce their risk."
The Healthvan also promotes the Seventh-day Adventist health message. "We're teaching people the joys of well-being and how not to be sick," says PAMC's Health for Life Department Director Keith C.... He adds that the Healthvan is an extension of the department's preventive medicine emphasis, and a most flexible means of providing wellness services at a variety of locations and events.
In 1995, averaging nine outings per month, 4,188 people received 6,748 tests, screenings and other services. These included 100 flu shots administered in partnership with Walla Walla College School of Nursing students at the Portland Adventist Community Services Center and 98 fingerprintings.
The fingerprintings were done during a Health and Safety Fair last summer in partnership with the Clackamas County Sheriff, Toys R Us, the Clackamas County Fire District, the D.A.R.E. program and North Clackamas Aquatic Park. The Healthvan served more than 265 children and adults during the event.
"Finding out how healthy you are is so expensive these days," says Anne C... of the downtown Portland Galleria shopping complex, "and people need to be able to get specific information."
During the Healthvan's monthly visits to the Galleria last year, a man came in and confided he couldn't afford medical insurance and expressed concern about his health. Lonna and the Healthvan team provided free blood pressure and body fat checks, a free coronary risk profile and a $2-cholesterol screening for him. When the man learned he had high cholesterol and asked what he could do to lower it, he received some written information and general counsel on how to create a healthy lifestyle. He returned to the Healthvan every month and he was able to lower his cholesterol and lose some weight.
In partnership with Northeast Portland's Hollywood Senior Center, the Healthvan provides tests and screenings to seniors by coming to the center that is familiar and comfortable to them, says center Activities Coordinator Maryanne C....
In a partnership with David Douglas High School, the Healthvan provided an opportunity for the Health Sciences class juniors and seniors interested in health professions to experience a clinical setting and promote health in the community. The class members checked the blood pressures of more than 700 students, faculty and parents, while Lonna provided low-cost cholesterol screenings and free nutrition profiles.
The Healthvan also has provided services to the community in partnership with the Sharon and Lents Seventh-day Adventist churches. Retired physician Dr. Galen C.... of the Lents church has organized the van's appearance with church volunteers at a local Fred Meyer for several years.
For the last three years the Healthvan has helped increase the visibility of the Sharon church's summer Healthquest fair. Organized by lay leader Columbus Candies, Healthquest is part of the church's health weekend in partnership with the Community Learning Center, a non-profit inner city ministry founded by church member Carl P...., Ph.D.
In partnership with the United Way of the Columbia -Willamette, the Healthvan provided services during the United Way's 1995 annual campaign kickoff day at downtown Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square. "People were lined up all the time they were there," says the United Way's Diane R.... "The Healthvan adds a dimension of community service and helps people improve their lives."
While the health van has served the community and the medical center well for about 16 years, it needs to be replaced. Lonna can recount numerous occasions in which mechanical problems have caused delays and difficulties. Sometimes the van can't be started before an event and the appearance must be canceled.
Philanthropy Services Director John K.... says PAMC's board of directors has authorized a $421,000 campaign to raise funds to replace the van and cover three years of operating expenses. He reports that as of mid-April more than $34,500 had been raised. He said he hopes the goal will be reached by July 1997.
For more information about the Healthvan or to inquire about scheduling the van for a Portland-area appearance, call Lonna C.... at (503) 251-6100.