Southern Plains Tribal Health Board Caring Van Expands Outreach Opportunities & Services

The Caring Van project started in January 2015. The Southern Plains Tribal Health Board (SPTHB) received a new Caring Van from the Oklahoma Caring Foundation.

This great collaboration provides tremendous preventative health service opportunities for all tribes in the state of Oklahoma.

The Caring Van is a mobile unit that travels throughout the state to conduct health screenings and health education at tribal health events, schools and community events.

We respect the traditional, cultural and regional customs and needs of the different tribes we visit.

Our focus includes working with tribes and reaching out to adults and children that otherwise would not receive these services due to restrictive health clinic hours and/or inconsistencies with transportation to and from appointments.

The Caring Van has been utilized and complimentary to several of the Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country Sub-Awardees with programs, projects and activities.

The preventative health services offered are: glucose screenings, cholesterol screenings, body mass index measurements (BMI), routine immunizations for children, adult and children influenza immunizations, foot checks, dental screenings, fluoride varnishes, head lice checks and HIV/AIDS screenings.

We continue to expand services, such as utilization of the van to allow Tribal veterans and Veterans Administration staff to help with paperwork and ask health questions or concerns about benefits in a private setting.

Children in front of the Caring Van.Children in front of the Caring Van.

Iowa Tribal Employee Wellness DayIowa Tribal Employee Wellness Day.

Veteran Caring VanVeteran Caring Van.

Our first year experience was about meeting and forming new partnerships with tribes, Indian Health Services (IHS) and Urban Health Centers. Here are a few of the events we attended in 2015:

  • Local Tribal – “Heart Health Awareness Day”
  • American Heart Association – “Go Red for Native Women”
  • Local Urban Health Center – Spring Turtle Camp
  • Urban Health Center – Native Youth Preventing Diabetes (NYPD) Camp
  • Local Tribe and OKC Metro Health System – “Hooked on Health” men’s health conference
  • Tribal Health Fair
  • Local Tribe – “2nd Annual Health Awareness for All Generations”
  • Local Tribe & Indian Health Service (IHS) – “Head Start Health Fair”
  • Local Tribe & Veterans Administration – “Warriors Resource and Benefit” health fair
  • Local Tribe – “Journey to Wellness” health fair
  • Multi – Tribal (5 Tribes total) – 2015 “Inter- Tribal Veterans Stand-Down”
  • Tribal & Casino “Employee Health Day”
  • Local Tribal Diabetes Wellness Program – “13th Annual Elder’s Conference”
  • Tribal Health Fair 2015 “In Honor of All Veterans”

Moving forward, we are attempting to focus on what works in order to be successful. Our over-arching goal is to ultimately improve long-term health in native communities by use of the Caring Van mobile unit. We seek to raise awareness by learning about the causes of health disparities while educating community and policy makers.

In years to follow, we hope to continue to build new partnerships while strengthening our existing circle and creating strong relationships with the tribes in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, as well as state and local health organizations. In 2016 we have traveled to (6) events and completed a total of 294 screenings through April. We are looking forward to getting out into the tribal communities this summer and fall.