Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico’s (BCBSNM) Care Van program can now bring mobile health care to more New Mexicans. A second Care Van has joined the program.

There are many issues — such as cost, housing and transportation — that can keep people from getting vital health care. The Care Van helps bridge this gap by bringing preventive services and screenings to where people live and work. There is no charge to access services in the Care Van.

A main goal of adding the second Care Van is to increase access to care. And this addition allows BCBSNM to provide health screenings to more children and adults across the state. 

When people see the Care Van for the first time, they often tell BCBSNM’s Thomas Butler, a Care Van program specialist, that they don’t have insurance or they’re not BCBSNM members. “The services of the Care Van are open to everyone,” Butler answers. “What’s the catch?” he often hears. “There’s no catch,” Butler says. “It really surprises people.”

care_van

The Care Van has worked as a clinic on wheels in New Mexico since 2006. Over the years, the Care Van has driven about 220,000 miles to serve cities, towns, villages and tribal communities in nearly all counties of the state. The Care Van has visited places such as Farmington, San Felipe Pueblo, Gallup and Roswell, to name a few.

Residents of Edgewood, for example, got flu shots in the Care Van parked at their neighborhood Walgreens. On another day, people at the Feria de Salud — Free Day of Health Care event stepped inside the Care Van for blood pressure checks and diabetes screenings.

The Care Van also visits food distributions that are funded by BCBSNM at senior centers and schools. The food drops are part of Roadrunner Food Bank’s Childhood Hunger Initiative and Senior Hunger Initiative.

With two Care Vans, BCBSNM plans to visit even more places, including tribal communities, across New Mexico.

In 2017, the Care Van supplied more than 1,400 immunizations and flu shots and 5,000 health screenings. And the Care Van has provided a total of about 15,400 immunizations and flu shots and 55,000 health screenings since 2006. With another Care Van hitting the road, these numbers will just continue to grow.

To run the program, BCBSNM teams up with groups such as DaVita Medical Group, Lovelace Health System, the New Mexico Department of Health and the University of New Mexico to provide health care. Licensed health care professionals give routine health exams, shots, dental screenings and other types of exams.

These providers give the results of the exams to the patient. Patients can then share the results with their doctor. The Care Vans also feature satellite service, allowing instant record updates to the New Mexico Statewide Immunization Information System.

As the Care Van program grows, BCBSNM hopes to improve outreach throughout New Mexico to help individuals and families stay healthy.