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Going “Mobile” to Care for Veterans

A provider listens to a Veteran's heart in a mobile trailer.
(Left photo) Houston VA’s Mobile Medical Unit. (Right photo) Stewart Miller, VA physician assistant at the Humble VA Outpatient Clinic, listens to Veteran Corey's Steward's lungs in Houston VA’s Mobile Medical Unit.

Employees at the Humble VA Outpatient Clinic recently went above and beyond to ensure uninterrupted health care for Veterans. Upon arriving to work on a bright sunny day last month, the staff found about a half an inch of water covering the floor throughout the clinic.

A water fountain right outside the front door had sprung a leak, causing minor flooding.  After calling building management to address the leak, the VA employees immediately called for reinforcements in the form of the Houston VA’s Mobile Medical Unit.  The unit, featuring patient exam and blood draw areas, was deployed to the clinic parking lot and set up to care for patients the very next day.

“We were determined not to cancel Veteran appointments when our clinic suddenly had to be closed for a few days for repairs” said Dr. Zachary Decatur, Clinic Director.  “We were able to convert many of our Veterans’ appointments to virtual but some of our patients needed to be seen in-person.  Bringing in the MMU allowed us to be there for our Veterans… and on-time.”

The Humble Outpatient Clinic is the Houston VA’s newest clinic, opening last year as part of the VA’s commitment to bring health care closer to where many southeast Texas Veterans live.   Already more than 1,000 Veterans receive their care in clinic and additional staff have recently been hired to meet the surging demand.

Stewart Miller, PA-C, is a physician assistant at the clinic.  He is also an Army Veteran who says he was proud to be able to continue caring for Veterans with minimal disruption during the recent flood in the clinic.      

“The Veterans were so grateful that we were able to continue their care, versus simply cancelling their appointments,” said Miller. “It’s important to us that we continue our mission of caring for Veterans regardless of the situation and the MMU allowed us to do that.”

According to Miller, his experience in the military was helpful to him as he and his VA coworkers transitioned to caring for Veterans in the mobile unit. 

“Adjusting to the use of the MMU was easy for me having dealt with rapid and unexpected adjustments during my military career,” he said.  “Many of our Veteran patients felt the same way…. they were all very understanding of the adjustments made and some appeared to enjoy the setting outside the clinic. I overheard one of them say “this takes me back to the good ole’ days.””

The Humble VA Outpatient Clinic offers primary care, mental health, and phlebotomy services; open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and can be reached at 281-540-5018.

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