Medicine on the Move

It’s not unusual to see a Winnebago moseying down the bypass. Folks travel from all over so they can camp out along our picturesque seashore. But there’s one conspicuous Winnebago making the rounds here on the Outer Banks. Wrapped in scenes of fanciful seashells, a photogenic family, and a kayaker enjoying life under a blue sky, this vehicle is emblazoned with the name and logo of the Outer Banks Hospital. 

health_coach_with awning and ramp webBut don’t be fooled by the whimsical exterior. It’s not a conveyance for shuttling vacation merrymakers to and from the beach. There is serious business going on inside.

Known as the Health Coach, every inch of this 39-foot vehicle’s interior space is maximized to allow thorough, efficient medical screenings. There are stations for each test, an examination table, and even an area that provides for private discussion of results. A result of an outreach initiative launched in January 2014, the vehicle brings wellness check-ups and personal health coaching to communities from lower Currituck to Ocracoke Island. 

“The intent is to increase access to free health screenings and education materials,” says Amy Montgomery, Senior Administrator of Operations for the hospital. 

Purchased through funds raised by the Outer Banks Hospital Development Council, the program offers support to residents in hopes that they will be motivated to cultivate positive health choices. The bus travels to businesses, churches, organizations, and events. Some days it stays put in the parking lot at the hospital and carries out its mission there. 
Have insurance? Don’t have insurance? 

No problem. Everyone is invited to participate.

health coach inside webOnboard, doctors, nurses, medical technologists, dieticians, and health coaches who participate in the various aspects of the health screenings. Wellness tests are used to detect disease early in individuals who look or feel well. Early detection, followed by treatment, can result in better outcomes. Therefore, even though you may feel as fine as frog hair (it’s really fine), you need the following screenings on a regular basis:

  • Weight, height, and body mass index (BMI) measurement. BMI is a reliable indicator of body fat for adults that is based on height, and it is used as a screening tool to identify diseases that are associated with weight problems.
  • Have you had your cholesterol checked lately? High blood cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. 
  • Don’t be among the several million individuals in the country who are oblivious to the fact that they have diabetes. A test of blood glucose will screen for diabetes risk. 
  • Are you familiar with “The Silent Killer?” No, it’s not a horror movie. It refers to the condition of high blood pressure because of its lack of noticeable symptoms. A cuff placed around the upper arm will measure the force of blood as it travels through the artery. It’s a quick and pain less test.
  • Everyone knows someone who has dealt with breast cancer. Screening mammograms are the best tool to catch breast cancer early, and health coaches on board can recommend patients for mammograms. 
  • In our little corner of the planet, there are so many activities that beckon us out into the sunshine. We need to be extra careful, as skin cancer is the most common of cancers. Once again, early detection makes the difference. Find out on board if you are eligible for a screening.

“If any health issue is detected,” says Montgomery, “information regarding a variety of local healthcare resources is available.” You can even have one-on-one time with the doctor.

Beginning in 2016, high risk patients will be offered free sessions with a certified health coach. The moniker Health Coach was chosen with the notion of residents being “coached” towards good health. Climb aboard! ≥

Kimberly Armstrong hopes to have a long, healthy life because there are so many books yet to read.

Kimberly Armstrong
Kimberly Armstrong’s artistic talents are limited to drawing conclusions. However, she can perform a rollicking rendition of “The Skater’s Waltz” on the piano.

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