Presence SMEMC and Mobile Care Chicago roll more health care out to children


The  Children's Health Van stands in the parking lot across from Saints  Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, 2233 W. Division St.

More children will have access to medical health care and services through a new partnership between Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center (PSMEMC) and Mobile Care Chicago (MC) via a medical facility on wheels. The facility goes where the children are. 


Carol Remen shows where the examination table will be installed

Under the new partnership, PSMEMC will add physicals and immunizations to MC's asthma and allergy services for children from 6-month infants to teens. MC's vehicle, with its pediatric nurse practitioner, nurse and driver, have been serving the area's low income children for the last 15 years on the west and northwest sides. 

“Every year there are children kept out of Chicago Public Schools for lack of required immunizations and physicals,” explained Mobile Care’s CEO, Tim Egan. "Overwhelmingly, these children are in low-income areas where access is a barrier. The result is that kids already at an economic disadvantage are seeing that barrier impact their school attendance and health. Our goal, as always, is to knock down that barrier.” 


Greg Kusch and Remen talk with Matt Siemer outside the van

“Our new partnership with Mobile Care Chicago aligns perfectly with our mission to keep our communities healthy, and I’m thrilled for the opportunity to bring much needed health care to the children at our local schools,” said Martin Judd, Presence Health President and CEO for Presence Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center. “Without the new Children’s Health Van, many of these children would not be able to receive the care they need. This is a critical initiative and we’re proud to be the first Presence hospital offering mobile health care.” 

"This is going to be a sort of pilot program to see if immunizations and physicals can be added to our repertoire on the larger scale. We are also doing referrals back into the Presence Health system when we identify issues that are outside of the scope of what we can do on the van," explained Matt Siemer, Director of Operations for MC. 

After the medical table is installed in the van, the program will begin later this month. 


Remen stands in the "lab" area

What happens on the van?
With the focus to provide the highest quality medical care for low-income kids who otherwise would go without, MC annually passes out a survey to every child in the schools in the area to see if they have un-diagnosed asthma or some other breathing difficulty. The returned surveys total about 18,000 over the year from two asthma vans. 

Both the public and parochial schools where the van rolls in have 85-90% of their student population from low-income families.

According to an often used asthma prevalence survey that came out in 2009 from a consortium of Chicago researchers, 25% and higher of the children in those low income areas have asthma.

"An ER (emergency room) will never diagnose them for asthma. They don't want to say you have a chronic illness because they only see you every so often. So a lot of these kids may have had problems for years but never been diagnosed," said Siemer. 


Kusch checks on a survey list as Remen works at her computer

MC staffers go through the 18,000 surveys and call parents where there is an indication that a child has a breathing problem that they are unaware of. Next they make an appointment on the medical van to obtain a medical diagnosis for asthma. Once the diagnosis is made they can adopt their medical care or send the information to the child's primary medical provider. 

Once they become a patient, the van generally becomes their medical "home" until they become 19.

Carol Remen, a pediatric nurse practitioner, and Greg Kusch, who drives the van, manages the fleet and helps with patient screening, are the two key van members. A bi-lingual nurse rounds out the 3-person team that works with patients.

MC also has two other vans on which dental services are provided. Those vans will not be part of this program with PSMEMC.




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