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NMHC partners with local health departments, receiving mobile medical shelters

The Northeast Missouri Health Council and Adair County Health Department have partnered to bring two medical surge response shelters to northeast Missouri. Estimated delivery of the two shelters is September.

The mobile shelters are equipped with LED lighting, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units powered by fuel generators. They feature an aluminum framework covered with insulated vinyl and flooring and can be entirely enclosed or opened at each end for drive-through clinics. The disassembled units will be stored in an 18-foot enclosed trailer when not in use. Each unit requires four to six people to set them up at any location. The shelters are designed to withstand rain, snow and high winds.

Ronald Stewart, planner for the Adair County Health Department, said the mobile shelters will be used for vaccine drive-through clinics and can be used to house people during weather emergencies, power outages and other emergency events that force them from their homes. The units can also be fitted with beds to treat patients in the event hospitals are filled to capacity during the pandemic or during other major disasters.

“This is a turnkey operation,” Stewart said. “We will even receive a full day of training on setting up, taking down, and storing the shelters. Not only our staff will be trained, but staff from other health departments, emergency responders and healthcare providers in the region will also be trained."

As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), the Northeast Missouri Health Council (NMHC) is eligible to receive federal emergency funds for COVID-19 initiatives. The NMHC Board of Directors voted to invest the $128,000 in emergency funds to purchase the units.

“It was really a no-brainer for us to use one-time emergency funding that’s available to us as an FQHC to make this option available, when such funding is not available to the Adair County Health Department or any other entity in the region,” said Andy Grimm, chief executive officer of the Northeast Missouri Health Council. “The Health Department will store the units and coordinate their use with the Adair County Emergency Operations Command and with other county health departments and hospitals throughout northeast Missouri. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

“The purchase of these shelters by the Northeast Missouri Health Council is a big step toward having the resources we need to vaccinate residents for both influenza and for COVID-19 when that vaccine is available,” said Jim LeBaron, administrator of the Adair County Health Department. “The units offer an enclosed, temperature-controlled space that’s safe and comfortable for people driving through while protecting our staff and all of our community healthcare partners responding to COVID-19 and other potential public health emergencies,” he said. “It’s likely that the COVID-19 vaccine will be ready in the dead of the northeast Missouri winter, so we need a place to administer the vaccine where it’s safe for residents and staff.”

NMHC has medical and dental clinics in Kirksville, Macon and Kahoka, and medical clinics in Edina and Milan, providing services throughout northeast Missouri.

Grimm said the sparser population spread throughout northeast Missouri as opposed to other areas of the state often puts the region at a disadvantage for funding and resources, but it’s the willingness of healthcare providers and health departments to work across county lines that ensures service to area residents, especially during times of public health emergencies and natural disasters.

“We all either come together and figure it out on our own or what needs to happen doesn’t,” Grimm said.



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