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photo credit: Courtesy of KRCB/Noah Abrams
Dental visits in a Winnebago? Petaluma Health Center’s newest clinic is made to be mobile.
 
It might look like an RV on the outside - an RV that’s stamped with the portrait of a smiling nurse that is. At noon Friday, the Petaluma Health Center cut the ribbon on its newest mobile clinic.
 
Congressman Mike Thompson was on hand for the official unveiling of the dual dental and medical mobile clinic. He acknowledged the strain Covid has placed on providers.
 
"It just exacerbated the many problems that we have in healthcare." Thompson said. "And then you add to that some of the other issues that are already difficult in, in healthcare, it's created some real high hurdles. So I want to thank all of you who are providers."
 
Pedro Toledo, Petaluma Health Center’s CEO, said the mobile clinic helps to bring justice to the healthcare system.
 
"We've known for year[s], that your neighborhood, where you live, influences how long you live and proximity to healthcare should not determine access to healthcare." Toledo said. "So this mobile health clinic is a way of lowering barriers and expanding access to high quality healthcare. In some of the neediest schools and neighborhoods in our community."
 
Doctor Ramona English, Petaluma Health Center’s Chief Dental Officer led the push for, and designed the 40 foot mobile clinic herself. Custom built on a truck chassis but resembling a Winnebago, the clinic includes two dentistry stations, a private medical station, and equipment to provide vaccinations.
 
English, like Toledo, said the emphasis of the clinic is healthcare equity.
 
"This is definitely not a money maker." English said, letting out a laugh. "In a way it's subsidized by some of our other programs that we have. And it's more about doing the right thing at the right time for everyone and reaching out to the patients that needed the most."
 
English said for now, staff on the mobile program will be shared from existing clinics, but hopes that increased demand for mobile services will allow for more permanent staffing in the future.
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