Are you familiar with the impact of mobile healthcare? Micro-practices? What if these types of options could reach communities for a fraction of the cost, increasing access to affordable healthcare in the communities that need it most?
RV mobile clinics cost $300,000 to $500,000 to purchase but reach people right where they are and allow people to avoid costly visits to the emergency room. By preventing ER visits, the RV, Family Van out of Boston annually saved $3,125,668 in healthcare costs. Micro-practices also aim to provide affordable healthcare by using technology to create a lean, efficient, low-overhead way of doing business. By combining these models, we can offer a new, more affordable type of mobile healthcare — a mobile clinic built in a tiny house — to meet our patients’ needs.
That was my dream, and I thought, with existing models to draw from and good intentions to help people, launching this new idea should be easy, right?
Unfortunately, to bring my vision to life, it took more than ideas and intentions — it took a determined spirit and perseverance, and I was committed to making it happen.
God placed mission work in my heart over 10 years ago. First through a trip to Guatemala, then to the Philippines and now annually to Haiti. During our 2018 trip, we saw almost 1,000 people for medication refills and acute illnesses. The cultures I have encountered on my mission trips are so grateful to receive the medical care, but they have so many needs that we can only address those on the surface.
Working in a community health center in Nebraska with refugees, I found the same types of medical challenges, along with cultural obstacles. Assembly-line medicine does not leave enough time for communicating through an interpreter to understand the cultural needs and barriers that exist.
These communities have shown me what is truly important in life! They have an appreciation for community and relationships — and they deserve better healthcare than they are receiving. With this realization, God called me to step out to do more, and my vision for a tiny house clinic was born! So, I quit my job and stepped out in faith, trusting God to provide income through PRN shifts while I researched and developed Cornerstone Nonprofit Healthcare as a clinic in a tiny house.
I started connecting with a circuit of community organizations, looking for financial and professional support. Each person emphasized that they understood the need, but they also gave me their perspectives of how difficult it would be for me to bring my solution to fruition, and many withheld financial support because of the barriers they perceived. I also found little aid for filing my government applications to establish a nonprofit organization. I will never understand why there are so few resources to help someone improve their community.
It was hard to hear discouraging words, but it fueled me to develop ways to improve my vision.
The vision was big, maybe too big for people to grasp or find enough courage to participate in themselves. But I soon became surrounded in wonderful people wanting to see me succeed.
Having lost my mother to breast cancer and enduring my father transferring for work in another state, I took care of myself from a young age. I had no help applying for school, filling out financial aid applications, signing up for classes or receiving basic emotional support. I developed a blind stubbornness that led me to believe I could do anything as long as I had enough determination. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in genetics, I became an oncology nurse and, still wanting to help at a higher level, then became a Physician Assistant, which produced the professional growth and mission experiences that led me to where I am professionally today.
With persistence and time, Cornerstone became a reality. Our first tiny house clinic is now built! The cost was $47,000 — just 9%-16% of the cost of an RV mobile clinic. Being completely off-grid, the costs to operate the tiny house clinic will be less than half the cost of RV mobile clinics’ operating costs. While most RV mobile clinics are a part of a bigger organization and are operated through grants, this tiny house clinic, with low overhead costs, will be funded through the sliding scale rates that are charged to patients.
Cornerstone Nonprofit Healthcare will not stop at one tiny house clinic. We envision a network of Tiny House clinics serving the areas in Omaha, Nebraska, where brick and mortar clinics have not survived.
God has removed my doubts, and I believe that we will not only be successful, but we will excel! I also look forward to the day when we are able to sponsor other areas to develop tiny house mobile clinic networks!
So many problems exist in our communities, and we need new, innovative ideas to overcome. Yes, the journey of turning ideas into reality can be difficult, but with determination and faith, nothing is impossible!
Cherisa Meyer-Fletcher PA-C
My interest in helping others began when I was in high school when my mother was sick with breast cancer. After her passing of breast cancer when I was 18 years old, I vowed I would do something with my life to make her death mean something.
I went to college and received a BS in genetics. At that time, I thought my mark would be in cancer research. While earning my BS, I volunteered in a hospice center with those dying.
I graduated with my BS in genetics, moved and worked in a genetics lab. Since I had moved I stopped volunteering in the hospice center. I missed patient care deeply. I then went back to school for nursing. I worked my way up in the healthcare field from nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse and eventually a registered nurse. While doing this education I was given the opportunity to travel to Guatemala and build a house. This was such an eye-opening experience for me.
Returning to the US, I went through reverse culture shock. I was so taken aback at how in Guatemala everyone worked for each other and even those we weren't helping were so gracious to us for being there to help others. Here in the US, we don't even know our neighbors. Most interactions are to help ourselves or our direct family ... at least that is what my experiences were. I was ashamed and saddened this is who I was. This trip was followed by one to the Philippines where I worked in a clinic. Again, I loved the community and was sad to return to the US.
I was working on a hospice/cancer floor as a registered nurse but I still couldn't answer all the questions the patients asked me. I wanted to do more for them than give them pills. I went on to Physician Assistant school.
I had separated from God in my adult life and it was during this time of immense struggle of learning and caring for my daughter and family that I looked to the church for help. I didn't believe but wanted to so badly!
God led back to him and then to Haiti. I resisted, I didn’t want to go, I had too much stress in my life. After the 3rd time Haiti was placed in my way I reluctantly agreed, IF I could raise the money to go. The money just showed up as family supported me and off I went. I have now been to Haiti 3 times!
I started working in a community health center to find meaning in my everyday life. I found a community of people here in the US that I felt called to help!! I was so grateful! I found God had other plans for me than that health clinic. I was meant to create something new
I am not doing this alone! I have a board and a lot of people praying for the clinic but best of all God has shown me he is behind me! “Hands to the plow” one step at a time I move forward towards his vision!