published Friday, September 5th, 2014

Chattanooga Primary Care rolls out mobile medical facility

FamilN nurse Practitioner Lynn Grotefendt, left, walks around the Healthcare on Wheels mobile unit.
FamilN nurse Practitioner Lynn Grotefendt, left, walks around the Healthcare on Wheels mobile unit.
Photo by Tim Barber.
  • photo
    Vicky Cooke, right, owner of Chattanooga Primary Care, talks about her new mobile unit in the exam room alongside family nurse practitioner Lynn Grotefendt.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
    enlarge photo

Chattanooga Primary Care mobile clinic

Founded: Chattanooga Primary Care was started in 2005.

Owner: Vicki Cooke, A.N.P., F.N.P.

Location: 1017 Executive Dr., in Hixson

Service: Primary care clinic and mobile care facility offering on-site physical and annual examinations.

Staff: The mobile clinic will be staffed by Cooke, Grotefendt and other Chattanooga Primary Care staffers, as need determines.

How it got started: Cooke was performing on-site physical and annual preventative care examinations for local companies when she realized that space is limited and that many companies don't have extra space to set aside for clinical use. She dreamed of being able to continue on-site examinations while removing the headache of setting up and preserving company space.

Why now: Cooke said the time is right for the mobile clinic, as the Affordable Healthcare Act rolls out and places pressure on employers to have healthier employees and provide access to healthcare. Also, preventative examinations are often 100 percent covered by insurers, which leaves companies with nothing to lose in many cases.

Contact: www.chattanoogaprimarycare.com/on-site-care, 423-870-1999.

Where the bed should be, there's instead an examination table complete with crackling procedural paper on top.

This clinic has all the bells and whistles — two bathrooms, cabinets of tools and goods and a plethora of adjustable light fixtures.

And it's mobile.

Vicky Cooke, owner of Chattanooga Primary Care, has dubbed the rolling clinic, built out inside a sprawling gray RV, "Healthcare on Wheels."

The impetus to tack on a mobile facility to Chattanooga Primary Care's services is straightforward, Cooke said last week, the day after the RV got its exterior decals.

"If you don't put health care underneath peoples' noses, they're not going to take care of themselves," she said.

Cooke wants to use the mobile clinic for run-of-the-mill physicals and annual examinations, and by taking the clinic to folks at work, instead of asking them to miss half a day's work or more, she thinks it will encourage people to make a preventative care visit.

Cooke already does on-site examinations for companies around the city, but a lack of examination space in many places prompted her to begin thinking about just bringing the examination space with her.

So, after kicking around the idea for two years, she pulled the trigger. She bought a used RV and had its insides renovated for medical use, for a total investment of about $80,000.

Cooke also brought on Sam Harden to drive "Healthcare on Wheels" and Steve Pope to find interested clients and market the new service.

Lynn Grotefendt, a family nurse practitioner, has also joined the staff, bringing her years of experience in the medical field and in on-site primary care clinics for the City of Chattanooga and EPB.

The mobile clinic is looking specifically to serve industires and businesses, where a dozen-plus examinations can be knocked out at once, said Cooke.

The mobile clinic premieres this week, and Cooke said the staff is looking for clients. Right now, the mobile clinic is available to companies within a 25-mile radius of Chattanooga, excluding Georgia, where the practice is not yet licensed.

Cooke said the intention is to feel things out and grow as necessary, with the staff obtaining Georgia licensures if necessary and potentially adding more mobile clinics.

Compiled by staff writer Alex Green, who can be reached at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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