Othello Community Hospital now hosting Ritzville mobile clinic

Apr. 25—OTHELLO — Othello Community Hospital has begun partnering with the Ritzville-based East Adams Rural Healthcare to provide mobile primary care clinic services once a week in Othello, outside the hospital. The clinic, a 40-foot motorcoach, is fully equipped to provide clinic services on the go.

OCH Chief Executive Officer Connie Agenbroad explained the need behind the partnership.

"We don't have a clinic here at the hospital," Agenbroad said. "I think the biggest benefit is access (to primary care) because we do have a huge underserved population."

The program started in early April, and will continue every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to Certified Medical Assistant Jeff Kissler, who works out of and drives the motorcoach.

According to Kissler, the mobile clinic also provides services not offered by other clinics in or near Othello, such as walk-in services or the ability to offer its services outside of schools or businesses for large groups. He said it will also help care for people on fixed incomes, people with mobility issues or serious illnesses, people who do not have a primary care provider and people who may be anxious about visiting a larger clinic or hospital.

EARH Chief Executive Officer Corey Fedie explained how the partnership with OCH began.

"We've been serving some underserved areas that find it difficult to get to our facility and there are a bunch of folks, Connie informed us, who leave the Othello community to go elsewhere for care because they don't feel like they necessarily fit with the other clinics," Fedie said. "So we put together this partnership and we're trying to just help our neighbor in the other corner of our county and be good healthcare partners."

Fedie said EARH received multiple grants — primarily through the Health Resources and Services Administration — during the COVID-19 pandemic to fund services that travel to patients, eventually manifesting in the mobile clinic which services rural areas across East Adams County, and now Othello.

"It provides another opportunity for folks in the community to seek care, and of course, it helps Othello Community Hospital see some patients at their campus," Fedie said. "The beauty of it being there at the hospital is if we see somebody and they need a follow-up lab or imaging or an x-ray or something, it's right there ... So that really provides ease of service to patients, especially those who already have business at the hospital; it's a great connection for them to get their primary care."

Kissler said the clinic can run on both auxiliary power and its own generator.

"It can go virtually anywhere. It's fully self-contained," Fedie said. "Even though it's not a building, we are a full-fledged rural health clinic."

According to Kissler, the clinic can connect to the internet pretty much anywhere they visit via Starlink satellite internet. Staff even have the ability to order prescriptions, give immunizations and write referrals, just like a normal clinic.

Kissler said that it will likely take a while for people to become aware of the clinic and utilize its services, which Fedie said is normal.

"Every new service takes a while to get going," he said. "People need to understand what it is and be familiar with it and, of course, have a great experience, and I think that word just has to get out."

For the patients who have visited the clinic in the last several weeks, Fedie said they have given positive feedback on the experience.

"I think the big thing from my perspective is, number one, we are two entities in the same county trying to help each other out," he said. "I think that partnership is, in this day and age, a pretty amazing thing and I'm thankful that Connie and her board wanted to work with us and our board. It's giving more opportunities for care, and people want choice, and they deserve choice, so I think that's a great opportunity."

To schedule an appointment at the mobile clinic, call (509) 659-1200. For more information on the clinic, visit bit.ly/EARHMobileClinic.

Gabriel Davis may be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com.