A mobile health screening unit will begin providing services on Monday at four north St. Louis County Metro transit centers.
Links 2 Health was announced Friday during a ceremony at the Wellston Transit Center.
The program is a collaborative between the St. Louis County Department of Public Health and Bi-State Development to bring the mobile unit to transit riders in north St. Louis County.
Becky Schrama, public health nursing manager for the county's Public Health Department, said the screenings will be valuable.
“It might convince some people who’ve been afraid to take the step, to go to the doctor and tell the doctor what’s going on,” Schrama said. “That this might be a friendly introduction that will encourage them to continue to use primary care.”
Some of the free services available for people over 18 will included health screenings, blood pressure checks and diabetes tests. Nurses from the health department will administer the services. Patients may receive services regardless of whether they have health insurance.
In addition, those who need help scheduling follow-up appointments with a primary care physician or applying for health insurance will have the opportunity to do work with a social worker.
The Bi-State Development Research Institute, a not-for-profit enterprise for Bi-State Development, applied for a $940,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration.
Money from the federal grant will provide health screenings for area transit riders, as well as communities near transit centers. Nineteen grants were awarded in 16 states; the Bi-State institute was the only one in Missouri to receive one of the awards.
Mokhtee Ahmad, the Region 7 administrator for the Federal Transit Administration, said Links 2 Health will help those who need it the most.
“In particular, it can become a lifeline to those who are the most vulnerable in the community,” Ahmad said. “Older people like me, people with lower incomes and those who are transit dependent.”
St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby, who represents District One, said Links 2 Health is a game changer, because many people in north St. Louis County go to the emergency room to be treated.
“So many people ... have problems with transportation and having access to services in the community,” Erby said. “So the thousands of riders that we have daily with Metro will now have access to health care screenings, as well as the fresh food kiosk.”
New Link Market food kiosks at the North Hanley and Wellston Transit Centers opened for business on Friday. They offer fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthy food staples from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m, Wednesday through Sunday.
Erby said the mobile health unit also allows people to know where they stand with their own health.
“To just go get your blood pressure checked and kind of get a heads up as to what’s going on with you to determine if you need to go the doctor is just awesome,” Erby said.
Walk-in services at the Links 2 Health truck are available from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m at the following locations:
- Mondays: Rock Road MetroLink Station
- Tuesdays: North County Transit Center
- Wednesdays: North Hanley Transit Center
- Thursdays: Wellston Transit Center
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