Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® Marks Two Years of Service for Local Students
The first time Aaron Johnson, 6, stepped out of his classroom at Usher-Collier Elementary School for a visit to the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® parked in the school parking lot, he was nervous. The kindergartener now looks forward to his bi-weekly visits to the 40-foot long, 8-foot wide van that is a fully functioning medical clinic dedicated to bringing asthma care to children where they live, learn and play.
The unit is the first of its kind in Atlanta and began offering services to nine elementary and two middle schools in Atlanta Public Schools’ Douglass Cluster, an area Usher-Collier Elementary School principal Jerry Parker notes is among the most high-need, high-poverty ZIP codes in Atlanta. “The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is key to helping provide wraparound services that didn’t exist before,” said Parker, noting that overall wellness at his school has been tremendously fortified by the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.
Student attendance has improved significantly at the elementary school, according to Principal Parker, and that is a direct correlation to wellness. In addition to improving attendance, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile aims to help prevent ER visits, prevent hospitalizations and help keep parents at work.
Ultimately, it helps families manage asthma, not have asthma manage them.
Aaron’s brothers and sisters all have asthma, but, according to his mother, Alicia, his has been the most severe, requiring daily medication and causing frequent visits to the ER and even hospitalizations to help control it. However, he hasn’t had an ER visit in nearly a year, which his mom widely attributes to the preventive measures he gets at check-ups twice a month via the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.
As a third-grade teacher at the school, she is also grateful for the convenience it affords. “The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is a saving grace to me because I don’t have to leave work to make sure he has regular check-ups,” said Alicia Johnson, who receives paperwork and a phone update following each of Aaron’s visits. “I don’t have to miss work, and he doesn’t have to miss school.”
The caregivers on board have been with the unit since it hit the road September 2016. Provided by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the crew consists of a nurse practitioner, nurse, licensed practical nurse and a technician who helps with intake and, most importantly, safely drives to each location in order to meet children where it’s most convenient for them to receive regular and preventive care.
The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile managed approximately 2,500 patients in its first two years, caring for 910 unique patients. They have a track record for 100 percent satisfaction by those patients and their families having recently received a commendation from APS for never having a single customer complaint.
“It’s a blessing, it really is,” said Alicia. “It’s a wonderful feeling as a parent and a teacher to know my baby is receiving such good care at school with me.”