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The doctor is in — and mobile

Mobile health care clinic will soon expand to the Santa Clarita Valley

Posted: May 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Dr. Glenn Lopez is president of On Site Health Solutions, which officers a mobile clinic for the uninsured or underinsured.

 


Three years ago, Dr.  Glenn Lopez decided to take his act on the road. Lopez is not a musician or comedian, but a doctor whose routine involves reaching out to uninsured and poorly insured members of the San Fernando Valley — and soon, the Santa Clarita Valley.

Lopez’ company, OnSite Health Solutions, is currently located on an ever-moving 34-foot mobile clinic, with which he visits 11 communities and various companies on a regular basis to provide on-site medical care, health education and chronic health management services.

OnSite’s services are two-fold: Companies pay OnSite to come to their office to provide health tests and screenings for all employees and schedule additional follow-up, on-site health services.

OnSite also visits high-need neighborhoods to provide group care, support and education for chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and allergies.

Lopez began this mobile model in Guatemala, where in 10 years he opened 95 worksite medical clinics.

The Cornell University graduate returned to the United States, working as an assistant professor at UCLA Department of Family Medicine. But his experience in Guatemala stayed on his mind.

“I never forgot the idea of taking services to worksites, thinking it was something that could very well work in the United States, too,” he said.

After three years in operation, OnSite has helped more than 1,800 patients through funding by Providence Healthcare.

Lopez is now looking to add a second mobile clinic to expand to SCV companies and low-income communities in the next few months — and expects the clinic’s schedule to be filled pretty quickly by companies that want to improve employees’ health and lower their costs that come as a result of employee health problems.

“Only about a quarter of the cost of employee health for industries is covered by insurance,” Lopez said.

The other 75 percent of what companies pay, Lopez said, comes from productivity costs. These costs are broken into “absenteeism” costs from sickness, turnover, temporary staffing and short-term and long-term disability and “presentee-ism” costs, which is time on the clock where work quality suffers.

“With ‘presenteeism,’ the worker is there, they’re not absent,” Lopez said. “But they’re not totally there. That is where the true costs lie in the industry.”

Lopez said OnSite’s patients run the gamut from those whose employers don’t offer insurance, employees who can’t afford their job’s offered insurance, and employees who are insured but face high deductibles or just haven’t taken the time to go to their provider and get care.

With the latter group, it’s the accessibility of the mobile clinic parked on their company’s lot that finally gets them to a doctor — Lopez.

Veronica Rivera-Santos,  a recent UCLA graduate who studied psychology, is one of Lopez’ two assistants that help educate and work with the patients.

Patients feel more comfortable sitting in the homey mobile clinic than a cold doctor’s office, she said, and it makes them feel more open with the OnSite team during support groups and appointments.

“The patients love (Lopez),” she said.

The on-site screenings and care allow a company to help its employees diagnose chronic issues affecting their productivity, Lopez said, which will shave long-term  costs and also promote companywide healthy habits.

“Those are the issues that affect your productivity — diabetes, hypertension, allergies,” Lopez said.

Once Lopez starts scheduling paid clinics with SCV companies, he hopes that local businesses will help fund the community-based clinics that would be open to SCV residents that need basic screenings and care. That way, he said, the future Santa Clarita OnSite team can use “the infrastructure we develop by day to bring mobile clinics to low-income areas in the evening.”

After the mobile clinic makes a diagnosis, Lopez said he refers the patient to nearby low-cost labs and health care providers, should they require more care than OnSite can provide.

But there are support groups and individual coaching available to patients to help improve their health, Lopez said.

Doctors don’t have the time to work with the patient beyond diagnosis, and as a result,  “There’s very little support to change behaviors,” Lopez said,  explaining how this can help address chronic health concerns, such as poor diet or lack of exercise.

“It’s not so much an issue of education,” Lopez said. “It’s an issue of motivation.”

Contact OnSite Health Solutions, http://onsitehealthsolutions.org.


smitchell@the-signal.com

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