Next stop: Better care for kids who need it

By Kindra Moné Sep 02, 2022 • 4 min

Residents of southern Nevada are used to seeing buses drive down their streets. Most of the time, they’re filled with tourists on vacation. But there’s one bus making the rounds that isn’t there to drop off out-of-towners. Instead, it’s there to provide valuable help for the young people who live there.

Fondly known as “Big Blue,” the Nevada Children's Health Project’s Mobile Medical Unit has been visiting underserved neighborhoods around the area since 2018. Its mission is to ensure at-risk youth receive the healthcare they need. Since its founding, almost 8,000 patients have come through—including over 2,200 in 2022 alone.

“One of the most critical keys to our success in taking care of our target population is relationship building with our partners and our patients,” explains Carrie Tallman, marketing communications manager at Nevada Health Centers.

That relationship building is essential. Many patients arrive for simple vaccinations or annual physicals and discover they need much more intensive care. The nurses on staff then work with the kids and their parents to explain why extra treatment could be needed and provide encouragement. For instance, a kid over 12 who receives a vaccine would automatically be given a mental health screening and might begin exploring treatment if diagnosed with a condition. Big Blue also partners with the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile to provide dental care to kids who need it.

“We maintain a consistent schedule going to the same sites weekly, so our patients become familiar with our team and have an ongoing resource they can trust to provide access to healthcare,” said Carrie. “Ensuring our patients have transportation and language support through our video translation services has also helped reduce barriers to care so that our patients can get timely, quality healthcare services.”

What’s surprising is the range of services the medical staff is equipped to perform inside Big Blue. In addition to annual examinations, kids can receive screenings for various infections and even undergo minor surgeries. And the bus offers no-cost, same-day or next-day prescription deliveries.

It’s the type of care that’s only possible because of the commitment the mobile medical unit has made to the communities it serves. Funded in part by Walgreens community donations to the Red Nose Day campaign, Big Blue is a much-needed resource offering a variety of services for young people age 23 and under. Walgreens is committed to helping youth in our communities get access to the healthcare they need, and Big Blue is crucial to Nevada’s large disenfranchised youth population.

When children come from traumatic experiences and find themselves in the care of the Nevada Children's Health Project, they receive life-changing care. Carrie has seen the impact up close in the seven years she's worked for Nevada Health Centers.

 “What continues to inspire me is the mission of NVHC,” Carrie reflected. “I believe everyone should have access to healthcare and good quality of life, regardless of their financial resources.”

Published September 2022.