One of the events we at the University of South Florida (USF) really look forward to every year is the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in downtown St. Petersburg. We always have a strong contingent from USF marching in the parade, and our students get so energized by the enthusiastic response they receive from the spectators.
This year, we had some very special representatives from the USF College of Nursing join us for the event. This group of volunteers handed out information about one of our newest – and most exciting – community initiatives: the USF Mo-Bull Nurse Medical Clinic.
The clinic is a recreational vehicle that has been transformed into a state-of-the-art medical facility. It features two climate-controlled treatment rooms, as well as a laboratory and diagnostic center that can safely store vaccines. It even has a waiting area, a restroom and 5G cellular service (so you can scroll through social media – or play Candy Crush – while waiting for treatment).
It was launched over the summer, thanks to the efforts of USF College of Nursing Dean Usha Menon, who was awarded a $3.85 million Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant for the initiative. The goal is to advance nursing education and increase access to health care in medically underserved areas throughout Tampa Bay, including south St. Petersburg.
In fact, the unit is in our city every Wednesday – at the Sanderlin Neighborhood Family Center on the first and third Wednesdays of the month and the Enoch D. Davis Center on the second and fourth Wednesdays (full details and a schedule are available here).
According to research conducted by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, there are dramatic health disparities within our city based on geography and race. Using Robert Wood Johnson’s life expectancy tool, they showed the average resident of Snell Isle can expect to live to 82.7, while the average person in Campbell Park lives to be 66.5. Separated by just four miles geographically, there are light years of difference between the two areas when it comes to socioeconomic status and access to medical care.
Foundation researchers also found that 20.6 percent of Black or African Americans in Pinellas County reported being unable to see a doctor in the last 12 months due to costs, compared to 13.3 percent of Whites, according to their 2018 Health Equity Report.
The Mo-Bull Nurse Medical Clinic is designed to help close that gap while ensuring equitable access to services. Since its inception, approximately 60 patients have received free care from providers on the unit. The Mo-Bull Clinic team is actively working on establishing more partnerships within the community, specifically focusing on south St. Pete. Most patients were treated for diabetes, hypertension and well-visits. Many of these individuals may not have had access to healthcare for an extended period, if ever.
I can’t tell you how proud I am for the USF St. Petersburg campus to be associated with this important initiative. This mobile clinic is a powerful tool in our efforts to help residents in our underserved areas who are suffering from preventable illnesses and injuries because they can’t afford or access basic healthcare services.
In addition, the unit provides valuable training for our future nurses. This is particularly critical because we are facing a significant shortage of registered nurses. In fact, Florida is expected to have a staffing shortage of more than 60,000 nurses by 2035. We are striving to prepare more students for this incredibly important and needed profession.
This is yet another great example of the collaboration between USF and the communities we serve. Here in St. Petersburg, we work together all the time, whether it’s creating internships for students to train the next generation, building partnerships with local organizations to enhance initiatives or conducting faculty research that positively impacts our region. There’s a sense of camaraderie and collaboration here that is very special. That’s why the Mo-Bull Nurse Medical Clinic gives me so much joy.
And no, it’s not just because I automatically love anything that has a “bull” pun in the name!
So please, help us spread the word. You can read full details about the Mo-Bull Health Clinic on this page. We want people to know about this valuable and free community resource and to take advantage of the outstanding care our current and future nurses are providing.
As the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle once said, “He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.” Thank you to the amazing USF College of Nursing for giving our south St. Petersburg residents hope. It truly means everything!
Christian Hardigree is Regional Chancellor of USF St. Petersburg.