St. Clare Health Mission and the Rotary Mobile Clinic
August 24, 2022 | 0
Between Milwaukee and Minneapolis is a picturesque city of approximately 50,000 residents called La Crosse. La Crosse sits along the eastern edge of the Mississippi River on the Wisconsin side and is what many consider a “college town,” with three universities that bring students from all over the world. The city and the surrounding small towns are called the Coulee Region, which refers to the landscape of steep valleys created by the Mississippi River and the creeks and streams that feed into it.
It’s in this picturesque landscape that the area’s many Rotary clubs decided to embark on an unprecedented fundraising effort to help the residents of the Coulee Region.
Early on in the pandemic, local Rotary clubs were dealing with the same issues as other organizations. The ability to have in-person meetings ceased, and many organizations worried about losing their sense of camaraderie, of community. Their membership might dwindle or the many charities that they support might suffer.
In an interview with local channel WXOW, Josh Mansee, who is the Rotary’s Foundation Chairperson at the district that covers the Coulee Region, said “we wanted to do something big, something that shows what will happen when the community comes together.”
So the local Rotary clubs banded together and asked the area’s non-profit organizations to pitch their creative ideas to help the local community.
St. Clare Health Mission was one of several non-profits who sent in a pitch. Their idea: A mobile medical clinic that can travel to the remote areas of the Coulee Region and provide free health services to the working poor, uninsured, immigrant, and homeless populations.
And their pitch was chosen!
According to their website, St. Clare Health Mission was founded in 1992 by Sister LeClare Beres, FSPA.
“She renounced all of her possessions,” they write, “as she devoted her life to the care of the poor. Partaking in her vision, representatives of health and social service organizations throughout our community began a collaborative effort to address health care access for the poor and uninsured.”
For those who had gone without healthcare due to lack of financial resources, St. Clare Health Mission became a safe and dependable option, providing over 18,000 people with primary and preventative health care since its inception. They accomplish this through the generous volunteer labor of local physicians, nurses, dentists, and other healthcare support staff. They also utilize healthcare students and residents that allows them to gain practical experience in a clinic setting.
For those first 30 years, The Mission provided clinics at a brick and mortar location, which meant that people had to travel for services. For the past couple years, the clinic ran twice weekly on a walk-in basis. But not everyone who needs care can make it to that clinic.
“A mobile clinic was really something we wanted to do for a while,” says St. Clare Mission’s Executive Director, Jason Larsen. “So when the opportunity came up with the Rotary, we jumped on it.”
Initially, the local Rotary clubs set out to raise $80,000, with the expectation that the rest could be raised through a match grant from Rotary International. But the generosity of the citizens and businesses of La Crosse was so massive that they ended up raising $170,000! Add another $180,000 from Rotary grants and even a few Rotary clubs from overseas, and they were able to bring home one amazing clinic.
The 26ft mobile medical clinic features two private exam suites, diagnostic equipment, pharmaceutical storage, a wheelchair lift, and a showstopping full vehicle wrap in Rotary blue.
“I tell ya, it was so incredible when we got there and we saw what we were picking up and bringing home,” said Rotarian and past District Governor, Dean Dickinson, in a video posted to Facebook. “It’s 84 degrees and I got goosebumps. It’s breathtaking.”
The vehicle was unveiled just two weeks ago at a local music event sponsored by the Rotary, where they officially handed the keys to St. Clare Health Mission. The very next day, the Mission put the clinic to work, providing “street medicine” to the homeless community. By the end of the first week, they had also visited rural farm workers and provided sports physicals to low-income children.
“We saw 50 patients in our first few weeks,” Jason Larsen told La Boit.
La Boit Specialty Vehicles is so proud to be a part of this extraordinary story about what happens when a community comes together. Congratulations to Rotary, St. Clare Health Mission, donors, volunteers, and everyone in the Coulee Region who made this happen!
About La Boit Specialty Vehicles
La Boit Specialty Vehicles president Gil Blais first started La Boit in his garage in 1981, where he hand-made organizational boxes for traveling veterinarians. Fast forward to today, La Boit Specialty Vehicles is now a leader in specialty vehicle manufacturing for the Veterinary, Spay/Neuter/Adoption, Dental, Medical, Command, and Bloodmobile industries.
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