New Pediatric Mobile Medical Vehicle will Address Health Disparities in Children and Youth Across Montgomery County

by Patrick Herron

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Council unanimously approved special appropriation to develop a public-private initiative between Casa Ruben, Inc., the Robert I. Schattner Foundation and Montgomery County  

ROCKVILLE, Md, April 5, 2022–Today the Council unanimously approved a $450,000 special appropriation to the County’s Fiscal Year 2022 Operating Budget for an initiative that will help provide healthcare to uninsured, underinsured and under-resourced children and youth across Montgomery County, as part of an exciting public-private partnership between Casa Ruben, Inc., the Robert I. Schattner Foundation and Montgomery County.

“There is nothing more important than the public health of our community,” said Council President Gabe Albornoz, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. “We must meet communities where they are, in a culturally appropriate manner, to eliminate barriers to access quality care. This initiative will achieve both and reinforce our commitment to closing public health disparities in our community.”

“During the pandemic, we’ve learned that we can’t just sit back and wait for folks to come to us for services, we have to go to them,” said Councilmember Andrew Friedson. “We have to do it on their turf, in their terms, in their language, in a way that is culturally competent. By partnering with local nonprofits and leveraging private dollars, this exciting effort will help us do that.”

Through this $450,000 special appropriation, the County will fund the purchase of a vehicle that will serve as a pediatric mobile medical clinic and, in turn, the Robert I. Schattner Foundation will provide matching funds of up to $450,000 directly to Casa Ruben, Inc. to fund the clinic staff and operating expenses. As part of the effort, Casa Ruben Inc. and the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will collaborate to identify children in need and provide necessary resources to improve their overall health and ability to enroll in school.

During the pandemic many children, especially newcomer children and those in under-resourced zip codes in our County, fell behind or were not able to receive the necessary vaccinations to enroll in school. The State of Maryland’s Immunet system reported that approximately 70 percent of uninsured, recently arrived youth aged zero to 21 years of age missed their recommended scheduled vaccines during the pandemic. The State of Maryland also reported a drop of 46 percent in vaccinations during the pandemic and encouraged leaders and pediatricians to re-engage families in care and use mobile units to bridge the gaps. Mobile medical care has been shown to be a cost effective and helpful way to reach underserved and disenfranchised communities that do not have easy access mainstream healthcare.

Casa Ruben, a local non-profit organization that provides comprehensive primary care, vaccinations, referrals to behavioral health care and other services to low-income communities, including many immigrant families and families of color, stepped up to fill this need and provided more than 7,000 immunizations to Montgomery County children during the pandemic.

More information on this special appropriation can be found in the Council staff report.

For more information on the County’s health initiatives please visit the DHHS website

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