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February 19, 2010

Mobile Health Screening Unit brings teaching and health care to region

A Mobile Health Screening Unit, operated by the University of Louisiana at Monroe's College of Health Sciences and supported by several community partners, made its formal debut for media outlets and the community at the Ouachita Council on Aging, Friday, Feb. 19.

The mobile unit is made possible with the support of financial institutions including IberiaBank, BankcorpSouth and the Living Well Foundation.

Clay's RV in West Monroe donated the vehicle, which ULM uses for teaching and community outreach. Five ULM departments staff the unit: Nursing, Dental Hygiene, Speech Language Pathology, Clinical Laboratory Sciences and Occupational Therapy.

"ULM is committed to giving our students invaluable learning experiences – inside and outside the classroom," said ULM President Dr. James Cofer. "I applaud the diligence of our College of Health Sciences administrative team and faculty, led by Dean Dr. Denny Ryman."

ULM Alum and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said he is "always pleased to hear of progress" at his alma mater. He described the community-university partnership as vital to the economic and physical health of the region.

"(This partnership), that is what it is all about. Congratulations to you. We know you are going to do a good job," he said.

The mobile unit's two-fold purpose is to help educate students in an authentic learning environment, while providing an eight-parish region with essential health care, according to Associate Dean of College of Health Sciences Dr. Paxton Oliver.

"The impact of the money invested in this project will be multiplied several times," he said. "Anytime you touch a student, then that student touches numerous patients."

Dr. Jan Corder, president and CEO of the non-for-profit Living Well Foundation, said the mobile unit supported the foundation's mission to enhance the quality of life and health of the citizens of Ouachita Parish and the surrounding areas.

"We support this unit because it increases services to the underserved, and we have many," she said. "If you have early detection, you can prevent disease and implement more cost-effective treatment."

Tanner Brecheen, representing Clay's RV on Friday, told the assembled crowd that it was "especially rewarding to see what was being done in our own community" with the donated equipment.

The reconfigured recreational vehicle is equipped with an examination room and an oral health-screening center. It primarily serves Ouachita Parish, but has also served health fairs in Richland and Morehouse Parishes, some of the most impoverished areas of the state. Free screenings, including blood pressure, vision, and oral cancer screenings, promote patient health and provide student learning.

Following the distinguished panel of presenters, Dr. Judy Fellows, Director of Research and External Funding for the College of Health Sciences, assisted media and other dignitaries in a tour of the new mobile unit.

The mobile unit is scheduled for additional appearances including:

Tuesday, March 2, University Avenue, near ULM's Sugar Hall: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Friday, March 5, Iberia Bank, 1300 Oliver Road, Monroe: 11:30 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.

Saturday, March 13, ULM Campus Circle: 7:30 a.m. - noon

Friday, March 19, West Ouachita Senior Center, 1800 N. Seventh St., West Monroe: noon - 4:15 p.m.

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