ECU takes health care and COVID-19 vaccines on the road

Coronavirus

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Teams of healthcare providers from East Carolina University are hitting the road, bringing care and the COVID-19 vaccine directly to the people in Eastern North Carolina.

“It’s just the next step in how we deliver care in the East,” said Dr. Paul Shackelford with the Brody School of Medicine.

The fleet is small, but it’s making a big impact.

“What we know is there’s about seven risk factors for what we call severe COVID, and unfortunately those risk factors are prevalent in Eastern North Carolina,” said Dr. Paul Bolin, with the Brody School of Medicine.

Shackelford and Bolin are just two of the doctors crisscrossing Eastern North Carolina and filling in the health care gaps for rural and underserved areas. At the beginning of the pandemic, they started to survey people and quickly realized people were not seeking out the care they needed.

“What we discovered is there’s just a whole myriad of reasons that part of the health care system just isn’t working for them,” said Shackelford. “We really like engaging in a discussion with them about how we can provide better care for them overall.”

The trailer and two vans are equipped for anything. The doctors, nurses and volunteers manning the fleet can screen patients for diabetes or high blood pressure. They can also give out vaccines for the flu and COVID.

“We’ve been out to factories as large as 1,500 people and shops as small as eight,” said Bolin.

The team has gone as far east as Dare County and as far north as Pasquotank County. They’ve administered over 1,000 COVID vaccines so far.

“If you can make an impact on one third of the population you haven’t made an impact on, that can really further change the mortality statistics in Eastern North Carolina,” said Bolin.

For more information on ECU’s mobile health care efforts, click here.

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