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Vidant Beaufort bringing free health care to rural areas

Vidant Beaufort Hospital recently unveiled its completed community health improvement coach; a donor-funded mobile wellness unit that will help Vidant provide free wellness and cancer screenings throughout Beaufort and Hyde Counties.

The unit is an RV that has been remodeled into a clinic on wheels. It includes a check-in area, a mini-kitchen and an examination area designed for privacy.

By offering free screening services, Vidant Beaufort wants to help people stay on top of their preventative care and catch chronic disease and cancer as early as possible.

The idea for the wellness unit took shape in June 2017.

“The Outer Banks hospital, which is one of our sister hospitals, has a mobile unit like this, “ said Pam Shadle, director of marketing, community outreach and development at Vidant Beaufort Hospital. “We said, ‘Let’s figure out how we can do this.’

“We really got excited. This is what we need to take to reach rural areas of our community — people who can’t access health care.”

Recognizing the value of cancer prevention, the Shepard Cancer Foundation committed $100,000 to help purchase the RV.

“Within a matter of around three months max, people came to us and said they want to donate to this,” Shadle said.

Community health improvement coach appearances at events can be arranged free of charge by calling 252-975-8850.

Free clinical breast exams and skin cancer screenings will be available aboard the mobile unit. Vidant also offers adult well-screens, which include assessments of body mass index, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, as well as health education opportunities.

Other programs could come along later. For instance, Vidant is looking at holding healthy cooking classes using the RV’s kitchen.

“We want people to be encouraged when they come in here,” said Vidant Beaufort Community Health Improvement Coordinator Jennifer Lewis. “Encouraged to get on the path to wellness.”