By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The coronavirus pandemic has led some healthcare providers to rethink how they’re delivering care to the community.

Instead of going to the doctor’s office, they’ve realized they can reach more people if they meet people where they live, especially in underserved communities.

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Maryland-based Luminis Health has found success by rolling their mobile community health van to the Riverdale Farmers Market.

Mai Bangura, who is a healthcare provider herself, came to shop but left with an extra shot of COVID-19 protection.

“I have been thinking about getting my booster for the past month and I haven’t been able to because I’ve been so busy,” she said. “But this is really good.”

It’s convenient and potentially lifesaving for people who don’t have access to a doctor’s office for vaccines or routine check-ups.

“The one thing we noticed that through the pandemic is people stopped going to the doctor regularly and they have been recently coming to our emergency rooms for things like uncontrolled hypertension and uncontrolled diabetes,” said Chris Krabbs, director of community health for Luminis.

Her team’s mobile health van can do diagnostic checks for diabetes, glucose monitoring, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Healthcare provider Alexandra Morán says walk-in patient Emilsa Mendez hasn’t been to the doctor since 2019.

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“She has family history of both diabetes and hypertension,” Morán explained during the check-up.

Mendez said she was nervous during the pandemic and struggled to find in-person appointments.

Nelson Plaitez, who sells produce at the market, says for him, language can be a barrier to seeking care.

“We don’t speak good English, so it’s kind of hard for us,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t understand whatever the doctor say.”

The pandemic has highlighted the need to make health care more accessible, and settings like the market or a place of worship can help bridge the gap.

“As we’ve been dealing with COVID, more focus on how do we keep the population healthy because we recognize if a large segment of our population is unhealthy and sick, it impacts everyone,” said Deneen Richmond, president of Luminis Health.

Healthcare providers say it’s about building trust, and they’ve found getting out of the building and into the neighborhood can make all the difference.

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A 2020 analysis of mobile health clinics nationwide that was published in the International Journal for Equity in Health found they serve an important role in reaching vulnerable populations. More than half of their patients were women and minorities. Team