A day with the mobile clinic taking the coronavirus vaccine to rural areas of Biobío
“This morning we went out to the countryside to the people with the most difficulty,” said Luis Beltrán, a nursing tech (TENS, Spanish acronym for Senior Level Nurse Technician) while he was getting on one of the mobile clinics that have been traversing the rural areas of the Regions of Bio Bío and Araucanía, helping vaccinate the population against the Coronavirus.
Along the dirt roads and unmarked paths near Mulchén, Luis says, “This mobile clinic is a good initiative for the hospital or for those of us who have to go out to the countryside because we can reach the furthest places.”
This is precisely the goal of this initiative with the support of Desafío Levantemos Chile and CMPC. The two fully equipped mobile clinics are registering people online to add them to the national vaccination registry of the Ministry of Health.
“Since the hospitals are dealing with the pandemic, they don’t have the resources to head out with their own mobile clinics. The fact that CMPC and Desafío Levantemos Chile are assisting with this mobile clinic is a tremendous help since we can get to other rural areas that we can’t reach on foot. It’s great that they’re giving us help,” says Beltrán.
Teachers, senior citizens, some people with handicaps, chronic diseases or any resident having a hard time getting around have all been helped by this campaign.
The Executive Director of Desafío Levantemos Chile Nicolás Birrell said, “Today we have a new challenge; helping the Health Service with the vaccination process, above all in rural areas that are difficult to reach. That is why along with CMPC we’ve made available a new fleet of mobile clinics. Once again, we are able to offer concrete material support during the second phase of the pandemic.”
CMPC Public Affairs Manager Augusto Robert said, “As a company we have tried to provide support since the start of the pandemic working hand-in-hand with the community, authorities and institutions in each municipality where we have forestry and industrial operations. These clinics will criss-cross the Provinces of Malleco and Bio Bío, and we’re very pleased that we can support the vaccination process.”
While the driver of the mobile clinic Luis Medina is leaving Mulchén with the whole team on board, he says, “Today we will take 45-kilometer trips from one home to another. We are reaching distant locations, and there are a lot of people waiting for us, many of whom are sick, bedridden seniors who would have a hard time getting to health centers for the vaccine.”
Roberta Astete, who took care of her elderly relatives during the pandemic, says, “This is the best initiative they could undertake because if you’ll notice (indicates the room where the’re standing), there are people aged 90 and more who have chronic diseases. Taking them elsewhere is much riskier because they could be infected. I think it’s extremely important that they’re coming out to vaccinate them.”
The clinic stopped at the home of Mrs. Nieves, who is unable to walk. Her daughter María Cea says, “I’m thankful for the mobile clinic initiative because they can get to more rural areas to vaccinate people who can’t make it to the city. Many of them are handicapped and don’t have the means to do so. This way more people can be vaccinated to prevent this virus.”
Once Luis Beltrán vaccinated Mrs. Nieves, she was filled with emotion and said, “It’s good that they can come and vaccinate us because I can’t walk.” She took the opportunity to add this message; “It’s bad when people don’t get vaccinated. All of my neighbors are vaccinated now.”
Such stories repeatedly come up in many of the narratives told by the people who have gotten mobile clinic support, either because they are older adults, have chronic diseases or are simply unaware of this vaccination process, which began in Chile on February 3rd. The top priority during the first quarter includes people over 65 years of age, health personnel, residents of extended care homes, critical government staff and those with comorbidities or underlying diseases.
As of today more than five million of these people have been vaccinated with their first dose in Chile. The goal is to have the whole at-risk population covered during the first four months of the year and 80% of the entire population midway through 2021.
At the end of the day for this mobile clinic, the TENS professional says, “We’ve accomplished the goal of the day to vaccinate more than 10 people, so that’s excellent.”
The mobile clinics will be operating through May 15th in the municipalities of Huépil, Nacimiento, Yumbel, Mulchén, and many more, helping the home vaccination campaign. The main focus is on giving two doses to senior citizens following the vaccination schedule laid out by health authorities, which may lead to immunity after the second dose.