Columbus, OH,
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OhioHealth Wellness on Wheels is Making a Difference

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OhioHealth Wellness on Wheels is bringing prenatal care directly to central Ohio communities in need. Sonia Booker, RN, OhioHealth Wellness on Wheels Manager, shared with reporter Chuck Ringwalt of Spectrum News 1 the importance of this initiative in improving infant and maternal health. 

The program consists of three mobile units, each equipped with eight rooms, that strategically target areas lacking accessible healthcare. 

“We intentionally go places where we know they need us. This is a medical desert,” Booker said. 

The focus is on delivering maternity care from the beginning to the end of pregnancy, including post-pregnancy support, regardless of their ability to pay. Blood work and ultrasounds can be performed on-site, ensuring that patients receive comprehensive care without needing to go anywhere else. 

“Where we sit right now is our highest immigrant population,” Booker said. “We have Nepali, Somali, African American, Hispanic – this is the world right here. And they love us because they know we're here for them and we give them access to care and we give them a lot of education.” 

Booker stressed the importance of slowing down, listening to patients, and creating a comfortable environment for them. "They love that. And we explain, of course, here's how we're going to communicate to you," she added. The mobile unit provides live interpretation using the telehealth platform Martti and language lines by phone to communicate with non-English-speaking mothers. 

Wellness on Wheels has had a positive impact on infant mortality rates. The mobile units have reduced these rates to 5.3 per 1,000 births in neighborhoods where infant mortality is double or triple the national average. 

“Some of our areas we go into, we know they have maybe a 15.0 infant mortality rate,” Booker said. “So, we have proven that this works.” 

Receiving care from the mobile unit can decrease the number of days infants spend in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). "In the last 10 years, we know that five or fewer babies through our program per year get admitted to the NICU. That's phenomenal," Booker said. 

Wellness on Wheels not only improves the quality of life for newborns but also contributes to cost savings and community well-being. One patient shared her experience of receiving a playpen for her baby, delivered right to her doorstep by the Wellness on Wheels team. 

“We want them to get good prenatal care, not to miss any appointments,” Booker said, “And so you have to have a heart for their community. And you got to understand that not everybody has access to care.” 

To learn more about OhioHealth Wellness on Wheels, click here

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