LAREDO – Congressman Henry Cuellar was joined today by state and local elected officials, healthcare leaders and first responders for a ceremony dedicating a new, state-of-the-art emergency response and medical asset that will deliver care to individuals along the border and in areas impacted by disaster. The mobile medical unit was funded by the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust and BCFS Foundation. It is operated by BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS), a global organization that has provided medical care and case management to individuals and families in Webb County for more than a decade.
“Communities along the border face a unique set of challenges in providing healthcare to their citizens, especially for those that live in colonias,” said Congressman Cuellar. “The Healthy Start program not only helps people who specifically request assistance, but more importantly its services go into areas where residents are often isolated geographically. This new mobile unit will continue to break down barriers by bringing care directly to communities along the border that have some of the highest rates of poverty and lack of insurance. I would like to thank everyone that has played a role in this milestone of healthcare and emergency preparedness for our citizens of Webb County.”
The unit, which will serve on a daily basis as part of BCFS HHS’ federal Healthy Start program, is outfitted with an exam room, sophisticated monitoring technology such as a non-fetal stress test monitor and ultrasound, and other medical tools needed to fulfill its mission of delivering prenatal and postpartum care to women living in the colonias. It is also equipped with neonatal capabilities should a hospital need to evacuate during an emergency, such as what happened during Hurricane Sandy. In addition, the vehicle can serve as a rehab resource for fire fighters and other first responders, equipped with liquid cooling vests, wireless vital signs monitors, oxygen units and other tools to assist responders during an emergency.
“Emergencies happen on micro and macro levels, depending on the vantage point of those who are impacted,” said Kevin C. Dinnin, BCFS President & CEO. “From an expectant mother who wants nothing more than her child to be born healthy but cannot access proper medical care, to fire fighters and first responders who put their own lives in danger to help those in peril, having a multifaceted tool in the toolbox like this mobile medical unit is going to increase the overall safety and wellbeing of many throughout Laredo and beyond. BCFS is proud to be part of that effort.”
Since 2001, BCFS HHS has led the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy Start program with the aim of reducing infant mortality, preventing child abuse, and assisting families in meeting basic health needs. Since transportation is not readily available for a large number of residents in the colonias, BCFS HHS’ mobile medical unit breaks down barriers to health by bringing care directly to families. The unit is stationed at various community health centers and other designated sites throughout the week and is staffed by nurses from BCFS HHS and its partner, Doctors Hospital of Laredo. In addition, BCFS HHS also provides case management services to address families’ medical, social, financial, educational, legal, housing, parenting and employment needs.
Most mothers in the program would never receive prenatal care if it were not for BCFS HHS, and nearly all went without care for previous children. Thanks to BCFS HHS’ Healthy Start, more women in Webb County are receiving prenatal care than ever before.
BCFS HHS’ Emergency Management Division is a non-profit partner of federal, state and local government and private industry, and has been tapped to respond to catastrophic disasters throughout Texas and around the world, including the H1N1 flu pandemic and countless hurricanes, tornados, fires, floods, hazardous material spills and earthquakes.