Dr. Rivera Cisneros, second from left, visits the new Huguley Mobile Health Services bus with Jana Picton, RN, FNP, Jorge Antolin Navarrete, Jerry Peña and Joe Wascomb. Picton and Wascomb have staffed the Huguley Mobile Health Services bus for many years, and Navarrete has helped prepare the old bus for its trip to Mexico.
In 1996, Huguley Mobile Health Services began with a dream: what if Huguley could bring healthcare to those who couldn’t come to the campus due to lack of transportation or financial resources. With a used terminal bus from the San Diego airport and $500, the dream became reality. Huguley’s mission of furthering the healing ministry of Christ reached into the community.
The dream expanded when, three years and hundreds of patients later, Huguley purchased a 36-foot demo motorcoach with 15,000 miles on it. Customized with one exam room and necessary medical equipment, the bus travelled to regular locations in Johnson and Tarrant Counties, providing immunizations, screenings, and some primary care services.
That Huguley Mobile Health Services bus, with its distinctive graphics of physicians and patients, became known throughout the community as a resource for low or no-cost services. In a typical year, the bus provided approximately 9,000 immunizations, treated more than 2,500 patients, and served about 400,000 community members by providing first aid at special events.
Through generous donations and a federal grant, the dream of Huguley Mobile Health Services entered the next generation when Huguley obtained a new bus last year.
But what to do with the old bus? That’s when a new set of dreams were set in motion.
Jerry Peña – who works at Huguley as a CPR instructor and has served Johnson County as a firefighter, paramedic and engineer – had long held a dream of taking the retired Huguley bus on a southbound journey to Guanajuato, the most central state in Mexico. His family originated from there, and many Mexican immigrants in North Texas can trace their roots back to Guanajuato. And Antonio Rivera Cisneros, MD, Ph.D, the dean of the health sciences division of the University of Guanajuato, also had a dream. He wanted to improve the health of the outlying villages through education and prevention, to inspire medical students to pursue a career in rural primary care, and to launch a pilot program for the other 31 states in Mexico.
Through their shared vision, the bus will continue its legacy of bringing medical services to those in need and serving populations located far from clinics or hospitals. This fall, the bus will travel to León, Guanajuato, a city of 2,000,000. The Health Division of the University of Guanajuato, in collaboration with the state’s Ministry of Health, will operate the bus in the mountainous regions that surround the city.
As a multiuse vehicle, the Huguley bus will function as:
• a local clinic for vaccinations, standard tests, and preventative health care
• a training center in rural medicine for medical students
• a site for local public health education
• a mobile emergency room when necessary
• an emergency command center in case of natural disasters such as fire, tropical storms, hurricanes and earthquakes
But first, the bus is getting a makeover, inside and out. The local chapter of Emergency Support Services (ESS), part of ESS International, is outfitting the bus and modernizing its features, with donations and help from volunteers. It will take $15,000 to get the bus in road-worthy condition and transport it to Mexico this fall. When the bus and the customs documentation are complete, the bus will go to its new home.
Dr. Rivera Cisneros recently came to Huguley to check on the bus. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to use the bus. Our outlying communities have little access to health information or medical services. And with medical students helping staff the bus, this can impact healthcare for generations.”
“Jerry first came to us with this idea three years ago,” said Ken Finch, president and chief executive officer of Huguley Memorial Medical Center. “He has encountered obstacles, expenses, and red tape, but he has persevered. Now the bus will increase wellness in the villages of Guanajuato, just as it served us in our community.”
Dr. Rivera Cisneros hopes that the program will serve as a pilot for other Mexican states, and he has arranged for the governor-elect of Guanajuato and others to visit Huguley and see the bus. “We have the vision to create a permanent program and export our success to other states in Mexico.”
“We have the ability to affect change in Mexico,” says Jerry. “We hope to be a model, not just in Mexico but throughout Latin America. Taking the first steps is the hardest part. I’d like to see the Huguley mission come to life there,” says Jerry with a broad smile. “To me it’s a win-win.”
So new dreams sprout from old dreams, and the bus will make another stop. Lives will be changed and health will improve. The healing ministry of Christ keeps going, first beyond our campus and now beyond our border.
To donate to the Huguley bus and help fulfill its mission in Mexico, call Jerry Peña at 469-360-1292 or email email@example.com.