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Saint Clare Medical Outreach Van expands services, provides opportunities for students with new partnerships

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The Saint Clare Medical Outreach Van will visit communities in Claymont and New Castle in addition to Wilmington. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — The Saint Clare Medical Outreach Van has been a staple in Wilmington for decades, providing health care to the city’s underserved residents. This month, the mobile outreach launched a new chapter that will bring its services to even more Delawareans.

St. Francis Healthcare has partnered with various organizations to create the Community Mobile Healthcare and Wellness program. It will allow the Saint Clare Van to offer services like preventative screenings, immunizations for adults and children, physical examinations, blood pressure checks, lab tests and referrals to community-based organizations on a weekly basis.

Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long speaks March 9 at an event about the new partnership that will expand the reach of the Saint Clare Medical Outreach Van, which is parked on the street behind her. At left are Dr. Sandy Gibney, medical director of the van, and Dan Sinnott, president and chief executive officer of St. Francis Healthcare, one of the entities in the partnership. (Dialog photo/Mike Lang)

“It’s really about Delaware, making it stronger and healthier,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, who is also a nurse.

A grant of more than $424,000 from Highmark Delaware helped make the program possible, according to Trinity Health, the parent company of St. Francis Healthcare.

The program was introduced to the public on March 9 at the Community Education Building in downtown Wilmington. Officials from St. Francis Healthcare were joined by Hall-Long and Rita Landgraf, director of the Parternship for Health Communities at the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences.

St. Francis Healthcare president and chief executive officer Dan Sinnott said the mobile outreach is a sign of the future of healthcare.

“Health care is going to be more about being in the community and less in the hospital,” he said. “Health care is going to be more about keeping people healthy than treating chronic illness.”

The director of the Saint Clare van is Dr. Sandy Gibney, who has practiced at St. Francis for the past 16 years. Her doctor’s office on wheels will reach new audiences in Delaware, as well as provide students from the University of Delaware and other educational institutions hands-on experience supporting the van’s staff.

Gibney said she found it difficult to say no when she was asked to direct the operations of the office on wheels. She referred to the two previous doctors who operated the Saint Clare Van, Tom Scott and Eileen Schmitt, as legends.

“These two were delivering healthcare to the needy before I ever graduated from the University of Delaware. I’ve been entrusted with an amazing gift,” she said.

The van will visit areas of Wilmington that have histories of poor health outcomes, according to St. Francis, and its outreach will include behavioral health screenings and education. One of the goals is to work toward a healthier Delaware. During remarks at the introduction, Landgraf said the state ranks 30th in the country from a health and wellness perspective.

“That’s not a healthy state, but we believe through intiatives like this, we will make Delaware healthier,” she said.

The van will arrive at 1 p.m. each day at the following locations:

• First and third Tuesday: Mid-County Senior Center, 1st Regiment Road, Wilmington

Students from Kuumba Academy tour the van.

• Second and fourth Tuesday: Shiloh Baptist Church, 215 W. 23rd St., Wilmington

• First and third Wednesday: Kingswood Community Center, 2300 Bowers St., Wilmington

• Second and fourth Wednesday: Knollwood Community Center, 4 Colby Ave., Claymont

• First and third Thursday: Claymont Community Center, 3301 Green St., Claymont

• Second and fourth Thursday: Academia Antonio Alonso, 4403 Lancaster Pike, No. 26, Wilmington

It will arrive at 9 a.m. at the following locations:

• First and third Thursday: Community Education Building, 1200 N. French St., Wilmington

• Second Thursday: Rose Hill Community Center, 19 Lambson Lane, New Castle

• Fourth Thursday: Canaan Baptist Church, 3011 New Castle Ave., New Castle

For more information about the Saint Clare van, call (302) 575-8218. For Spanish, call (302) 575-8222.