Angleton-Danbury General Hospital in Angleton, Texas, is hitting the road with a customized wellness bus in an effort to provide education and to improve the health of community residents.
The program, launched in December 1995, allows the hospital to offer a variety of free services. It's underwritten by taxes collected from the hospital district-an amount totalling $1.6 million in fiscal 1996.
The bus has three workstations where staffers offer such services as blood-pressure screenings, blood screenings for diabetes, flu and tetanus vaccinations, and mammogram information. Angleton-Danbury also teaches CPR to students in its school district.
The program arose out of a community-needs assessment done in the early 1990s with area hospitals and the United Way, said Patty Sayes, director of marketing and public relations at the hospital. "Some of our residents couldn't get to centers for basic health screenings and information," Sayes said. "We have seen in excess of 10,000 people since having the wellness bus. Those things we would have never seen without the bus."
Sayes said they were able to construct the bus for about $60,000, about one-quarter of what it would have cost if they had not designed the bus themselves. The project was based on a concept from David Bleakney, the hospital's administrator. A team of developers including Jason Perez, director of purchasing; nurses Jan McGinty and Jennie Veselka; and Sayes worked on the project. A large part of the funding was donated by Houston-based Memorial Healthcare System, which contractually manages the hospital.
"Because of the ease of having the bus, our staff has been able to conduct more screenings and we feel more comfortable conducting them in our own environment to ensure safety. More people feel comfortable because they are able to relax and talk about more issues because of the privacy of the bus," Sayes said.
Angleton-Danbury, which in 1996 had $20 million in revenues and $15.3 million in expenses, often receives free health education literature from companies like Tylenol and Mazola and distributes the information to residents from the bus. One vendor donated 30 cases of low-sugar cereal to the hospital for a diabetes support group. Residents are able to take advantage of these services at local wellness promotions at area businesses, shopping centers, local festivals and events, and even in their own neighborhoods.