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Cal Poly's mobile health clinic is offering services to support uninsured women of color

A Women’s Mobile Health Clinic run by Cal Poly aims to empower uninsured Hispanic and indigenous women.
Posted at 6:54 PM, Apr 27, 2023

A Women’s Mobile Health Clinic run by Cal Poly aims to empower uninsured Hispanic and Indigenous women.

It’s a job that requires compassion and patience.

“They need help with food, they need help with social services,” explained Vicki Charbonneau, a nurse practitioner, and the clinical director of the Women’s Mobile Health Clinic. “We treat a lot of physical disorders because people that work in the fields, their bodies are really stressed by the work.”

The Women’s Mobile Health Clinic started in 2018 thanks to a Cal Poly research project in Northern Santa Barbara County.

“One of our Cal Poly students was doing her senior project on this, and she found that about 26% of women at the time didn't have access to health care,” recalled Suzanne Phelan, the director of Cal Poly’s Center for Health Research.

This truck ties in free healthcare for uninsured women with research and educational opportunities.

“The prevalence of chronic disease happens to be higher in women of color,” said Phelan. “Women who don't speak English, women who have lower education and lower income. ”

Women like Cándida Sierra who used to work in the fields before a life-changing diagnosis…

Sierra said that about a year ago she had a feeling that she could have breast cancer but didn’t know what to do or where to go. After visiting the Women’s Mobile Health Clinic, she was ordered to get her first mammogram.

Sierra said staff members not only offered her emotional support but they advocated for her so she could get surgery and chemotherapy.

“We make a connection with the patients, we speak their language or we have a Mixtec interpreter because another language that is spoken among our patients is Mixtec,” added Cristina Macedo, the Women’s Mobile Health Coordinator.

The clinic sees about nine patients once a week at rotating spots in Santa Maria and Guadalupe. The main focus is preventative care to hopefully reduce potentially expensive emergency room visits.

“We have primary care, we treat people that have diabetes and hypertension and other […] common medical disorders,” explained Charbonneau. “We also provide women's healthcare, so we do pap smears, we order mammograms, clinical breast exams, and screen for abnormalities we offer ultrasounds also.”

It’s a trilingual, multicultural approach to healthcare all thanks to a collaboration with the SLO NOOR Foundation, Cal Poly, and Marian Regional Medical Center.

“To me, it's just like I look at all these women like my mom, you know, I wish somebody would have been there who would have been a little bit more helpful for her,” said Rubi Solano who works as a phlebotomist for the Women’s Mobile Health Clinic.

If you want to make an appointment with the women’s mobile health unit you can give them a call at (805) 858-0943. You can also find them on Facebook as @polynoorclinic