SAN ANTONIO (July 18, 2019) ― San Antonio parents will have another option for well-child health care appointments with a new partnership between Superior HealthPlan and the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing.
Through the agreement Superior, which offers managed health care plans for children and adults throughout Texas, is covering the basic operating expenses for the school’s mobile health unit (MHU). The School of Nursing uses the MHU to fulfill its clinical, educational and research missions in the community, which now include visits to Superior pediatric patients right in their neighborhoods.
Shown at the July 17 event are Scott Ackerson, LMSW, from Prospera Housing Community Services; Cindy Sickora, D.N.P., RN, from the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing; and Superior HealthPlans’ Susan Mills, Ph.D., RN, and Marina S. Christmas, B.S.N., RN.
On July 17, the School of Nursing provided well-child checkups for patients from birth to age 21 at Oak Manor Apartments. Oak Manor is a Prospera Housing Community Services affordable housing site located at 2330 Austin Highway. Blood pressure, vision and hearing screenings were included in the checkups.
“Superior is proud to join UT Health San Antonio to offer high-quality health care to the uninsured and underserved populations across San Antonio,” said Susan Mills, senior vice president of quality improvement at Superior. “We believe this mobile clinic improves access to services needed for healthier families and communities, and we look forward to our continued partnership on this important initiative.”
Cindy Sickora, D.N.P., RN, vice dean of practice and engagement in the School of Nursing, said “We are pleased to have this partnership with Superior. Our goal with the mobile health program is to provide access to care while giving supervised clinical experience to our undergraduate and graduate nursing students in the community. The mobile unit gives us another practice option for our faculty nurse practitioners to provide care. We also plan to integrate faculty and student research into the care we provide in the future.”
Scott Ackerson, executive vice president of strategic partnerships at Prospera, added, “The relationship between housing and improved population health is well documented in literature. Prospera is pleased to partner with Superior and UT Health San Antonio in this endeavor. By having the UT Health San Antonio mobile health unit brought directly to their homes, our residents, who struggle with transportation costs and mobility concerns, can still get their health care needs met regularly.”
Improving public health
Having access to affordable health care, safe and affordable housing, a quality education, healthy food and community resources are all factors called “social determinants of health” that can lead to improved public health. Lacking these resources through poverty, by living in rural areas where resources are scarce or by experiencing a natural disaster can disrupt or limit potential and life success.
Bringing health care where it’s needed
An example of providing health care access after a natural disaster is the School of Nursing’s deployment of a quick-response team to residents of hard-hit Rockport, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey. While faculty and students were providing primary care services to patients at a picnic table in a church parking lot, Dr. Sickora was searching for a partner to support a mobile van that would provide shelter from the elements and a more stable platform from which to offer care. With $200,000 of grant funding from singers Paul Simon and Edie Brickell, Dr. Sickora rented the mobile unit for the duration of the Rockport project. “Our faculty and students saw at least 600 patients in Rockport until people began to get back on their feet” in spring 2018, she said.
The MHU has been used for other community outreach efforts since, but with the Hurricane Harvey project nearly complete, Dr. Sickora had been searching for a new partner to support the school’s community health efforts more permanently after the university purchased the mobile unit.
“We were so glad when Superior agreed to work with us. Their funding pays for maintenance, fuel and the driver to allow us to expand our mobile health program in the community,” she said. Since January, the mobile unit has visited several Prospera affordable housing sites in San Antonio to provide care to Superior pediatric patients.
For more information about health care through the mobile health unit, call (210) 567-2788 and select the option for Pediatrics.
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The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, now called UT Health San Antonio®, is one of the country’s leading health sciences universities. With missions of teaching, research, healing and community engagement, its schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced 36,500 alumni who are leading change, advancing their fields and renewing hope for patients and their families throughout South Texas and the world. To learn about the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.
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Founded in 1999, Superior HealthPlan is a managed care company that delivers quality healthcare throughout Texas. Committed to transforming the health of the community, one person at a time, Superior supports active local involvement in all 254 Texas counties with nearly 4,000 employees in 8 offices throughout the state. Superior is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation, a leading multi-national healthcare enterprise offering both core Medicaid and specialty services. More information on Superior can be found at www.SuperiorHealthPlan.com.
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Prospera Housing Community Services, formerly known as Housing and Community Services Inc., assists families in achieving social and economic stability by providing affordable housing, community support and education. Prospera Housing Community Services is a non-governmental, community-based 501(c)(3) Texas nonprofit housing provider established in 1992 that owns and/or operates 49 properties throughout Texas. For more information, visit www.prosperahcs.org
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