TidalHealth earmarks grant for second mobile van for use in Sussex

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield announced a $150,000 BluePrints for the Community grant awarded to TidalHealth will be used to purchase a second mobile van earmarked for use in Sussex County. (Submitted photo)

SEAFORD — Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware has awarded TidalHealth a $150,000 grant from BluePrints for the Community for the purchase of a second mobile wellness van, this one earmarked for use in Southern Delaware.

This vehicle will be used to expand the Wagner Wellness Van program, currently in Wicomico, Worcester and Somerset counties in Maryland, to lower Delaware and surrounding areas such as Dorchester County.

This second van will be used primarily in Sussex County.

“With a number of neighborhoods in Sussex County considered rural or impoverished, it quickly became apparent TidalHealth had an obligation to expand our mobile health program into lower Delaware,” said Kathryn Fiddler, Vice President, TidalHealth Population Health. “The mobile health clinic will target areas where health assessment data indicates high health disparities or barriers to care resulting from social determinants of health.”

Once the vehicle is purchased, it will be outfitted to provide primary care, preventative health and other health care services. It will be staffed by a nurse or nurse practitioner.

The purpose of the mobile clinic is to link individuals needing increased access to care to a coordinated community wellness team including a community health worker, social worker and health care providers, including primary care and behavioral health care providers

The Wagner Wellness Van began serving as a health clinic for local Maryland residents in need of increased access to care in 2016. It has a proven record of connecting marginalized or rural communities to primary care; reducing emergency department utilization and reducing admissions and readmissions to the hospital. These types of results help improve community health while reducing healthcare costs for patients.

Social determinants of health include economic or other conditions that affect a person’s ability to access adequate health care or other resources. They show a direct impact on a community’s overall health and well-being. Social determinants of health are often outside of a person’s control and include things such as transportation, housing, food insecurity, employment and healthcare coverage.

“Expanding this mobile health program to communities in Sussex County is critical to taking the next step of providing the best possible healthcare for the communities we serve,” Ms. Fiddler said.

“Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield knows firsthand how impactful mobile health units can be in serving hard-to-reach populations,” said Nick Moriello, President of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware. “We are happy to support TidalHealth’s efforts to serve communities in Sussex County by way of mobile health care.”

BluePrints for the Community, housed by the Delaware Community Foundation, has contributed over $17 million to the community since its inception in 2007. It was established to serve Delawareans with emphasis on, but not limited to, the needs of the uninsured and underserved, and to reduce health care disparities in minority population and address social determinants of health.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware serves approximately 441,000 members through the company’s health care benefits business.