Care Van’s Trip to Central Montana Kicks Off Busy Fall Schedule

 Chilly air and misting rains welcomed the Care Van to Central Montana on Sept. 20-21, with the program kicking off flu shot season by making several stops in a trio of communities. Partnering with the Central Montana Health District, the program stopped at schools and senior centers in Stanford, Ryegate and Lavina, administering more than 150 flu shots to adults and children.

The two days of travel marked the first time that Care Van took part in CMHD’s mobile flu clinics, which the department has been holding for several years. It is a much-needed service for these rural towns, where it may take driving an hour-and-a-half to reach the nearest provider for immunizations. Instead of an adult missing half a day of work or a child missing school, it took participants five to 10 minutes from when they arrived at the van to when they were back on their way with a band aid on their arm and a lollipop in their hand.    

Stanford resident Jessica Goodhart received her flu shot in the Care Van when it was parked in front of the county courthouse. It was the fourth consecutive year that she has received a flu shot at the CMHD local clinic. 

“I want to stay healthy and not get sick,” Goodhart said after receiving her flu shot. “This is such a great service and it is very convenient. It is also really neat that they are using the van this year.”

Although CMHD had been providing local clinics such as the one in Stanford for many years, they partnered with Care Van this year to try out the program. After two days and nine stops, including wrapping up at the Golden Valley Hutterite Colony, the CMHD staff was pleased with what the program had to offer. This included a sterile and private location to provide vaccinations, a truly mobile clinic where supplies didn’t have to be loaded and unloaded at every stop, and financial assistance for those who are underinsured or without insurance. All of these help reduce barriers to care and make a partnership very beneficial to Montanans.

“The Care Van program worked extremely well for Central Montana Health District. We often travel to several locations for clinics in one day and CMHD found the van was very handy. It was easy to load our supplies into the van and provided optimal room for staff and clients, especially at the schools where kids could come out and have privacy,” said CMHD nurse Heather Thom. “Care Van staff really assisted with the flow of clients, including helping clients complete paperwork, bringing students out to the van at the schools, managing the line outside of van and answering client questions. CMHD was appreciative for the opportunity to partner with the Care Van program.”

The Care Van is a community partnership and outreach program that provides vaccines to Montanans, with an emphasis on underserved populations. Care Van teams up with community health officials to administer vaccines at no cost, or low cost, to patients. The program brings services to Montana's rural and underserved areas, as well as centralized locations in populated areas.

For more information on the program, please contact Care Van Administrator Bryan Haines at bryan_haines@bcbsmt.com or (406) 437-6198.

CARE VAN’S UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Care Van’s two days in Central Montana marked the beginning of a very busy 10-week stretch for the program. Care Van will be partnering with county health departments and other providers all across the state, providing access to flu shots for Montanans.

Here is the Care Van’s schedule for the upcoming flu shot season:

Nov. 2 – Sanders County (Thompson Falls and Plains)
Nov. 4 – Lake County (Polson Post Office & True Value Hardware in Ronan)
Nov. 7 – Great Falls Indian Alliance (Great Falls)
Nov. 8 – Sweet Grass County (Big Timber)
Nov. 9 – Jefferson County (Boulder)
Nov. 10 – Liberty County (area Hutterite Colonies)
Nov. 10 – Lewis & Clark County (East Valley Middle School*)
Nov. 15 – Lewis & Clark County (Bryant and Central Elementary Schools*)
Nov. 17 – Lewis & Clark County (Warren Elementary School*)
Nov. 21 – Jefferson County (Boulder)
Dec. 14 – Madison County (Big Sky)
*clinics open only to school students and their families

Please note that schedule is subject to change. For more information on upcoming, please contact Care Van Administrator Bryan Haines at bryan_haines@bcbsmt.com or (406) 437-6198. 

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