On the Road with Care Van
Clear blue skies and sun greeted state dignitaries and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) leaders on September 24, 2014, as they gathered at the Capitol to officially christen one of BCBSMT’s newest initiatives – the Care Van.
That day started on a high note, and the program’s namesake van has made steady progress since.
Our Care Van mobile outreach program partners with public health officials, community clinics and other practitioners to administer vaccines, with the goal of maintaining and increasing vaccination rates and providing important health information. The Care Van’s services are available to any clinic that is interested and does not require BCBSMT membership.
“The Care Van is another important way that we can live up to our promise to give back to the Montana communities that we serve,” said Blue Cross President Mike Frank. “By raising awareness about immunization and providing the catalyst for more children and adults to get the vaccines they need, we will in turn help create a healthier Montana.”
Care Van administrator, Peter Nowakowski, echoed that sentiment.
“One of the reasons we kicked off at the Capitol is because we’re all in this together,” Peter said. “Vaccine-preventable diseases don’t simply stop at the public sector, which is why this type of initiative is a perfect match-up of public and private entities. We can provide extra resources to public health departments and community clinics so they can widen their reach in administering vaccines.”
It’s on the road where the program truly shines, as the Care Van brings services to Montanans who might not otherwise have access to it. Since September of 2014, the Care Van has logged thousands of miles doing exactly that.
In late October, the Care Van spent two days traveling through Beaverhead County with Sue Hansen, director of the county public health department. Hansen administered shots in Dillon, Lima, Dewey, Polaris, Jackson, Wisdom, and Wise River.
“This was a really great – and fun – way to get flu vaccine out to the entire county,” Hansen said. “We could stop just about anywhere to administer the vaccine. It saved time because I didn’t have to find a place to set up a clinic. The van was very visible, which really helped a lot, especially in the small communities where really there isn’t much.”
The Care Van’s first few months were a whirlwind – in its first two months on the road, the Care Van provided more than 1,000 vaccines to Montanans in need.