- The Washington Times - Friday, March 19, 2004

A team of dedicated doctors and nurses is driving quality health care into underserved neighborhoods throughout the District with the Kid’s Mobile Medical Clinic. The large white bus holds a state-of-the-art doctor’s office that stops at five regular locations each week to provide free medical care to patients under 21.

When the clinic parked at G and 12th streets SE early this week, Martin Petty, 17, climbed inside for a checkup. Martin, a Ballou High School senior, lives nearby and has been coming to the mobile clinic since he was 7.

“It’s a cool staff. They’re nice people; considerate, caring,” Martin said. He pointed to Dr. Matthew Levy, who runs the clinic, and grinned. “Take this guy here, he’s, like, my pal.”

“Like?” Dr. Levy said, pretending to be insulted.

Patients can spot the clinic by the large drawing of Ronald McDonald on its side. Ronald McDonald House Charities provides support to the program, which is run by Georgetown University Children’s Medical Center.

The clinic began visiting low-income neighborhoods in 1992 and has seen almost 29,000 patients since.

Dr. Levy, 37, has worked at the clinic since 1999 and took charge of the program in 2000. As the medical director of community pediatrics at Georgetown University Hospital, he oversees a small staff that provides comprehensive care to the needy.

On a typical day, two doctors, a nurse and a registrar see about 15 patients for anything from full physicals to blood work. The clinic visits five regular locations throughout the week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Checkups are by appointment, but sick walk-ins are accepted.

“This isn’t a 9-to-5 job, this is a calling,” Dr. Levy said. His staff agreed.

“It’s a pretty great experience. It keeps you on top of what’s going on in our neighborhoods in D.C.,” said Scott Grissett, bus operator and registrar. The Northeast resident makes appointments for patients, keeps track of their charts, and signs families up for Medicaid who often don’t know they are eligible.

After patients sign in with Mr. Grissett, 33, doctors see them in one of two examination rooms at opposite ends of the bus that are soundproofed for privacy.

The five weekly stops are in neighborhoods designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas, neioghborhoods where the need for medical care severely outweighs the number of providers.

Dr. Levy hopes traveling to these areas will break barriers for patients who otherwise might not see a doctor. “We’re trying to build a program that provides easy access,” he said. “We’re trying to level the playing field for care.”

Access made a big difference for Shenell Glover, 19, when she brought her 6-day-old son, Marcus, to the clinic. She lives nearby and her alternative is finding a ride to Georgetown Hospital.

Miss Glover was reassured by the clinic staff as they examined her tiny baby, who was born one month premature but is healthy.

“They were good,” she said, looking forward to her appointment next week.

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