North St. Louis County commuters will soon be able to get a checkup before boarding the train. A $940,000 grant from U.S. DOT will fund health screenings such as blood pressure and cholesterol tests at a MetroLink station, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The money was awarded to a nonprofit arm of the Bi-State Development Agency and the St. Louis County Department of Public Health for a new mobile clinic that will be open six hours a day, four days a week.
John Wagner, director of the Bi-State Development Research Institute, told the Post-Dispatch that residents in north St. Louis County have higher rates of emergency room visits than people elsewhere in the city, according to a 2011 assessment.
The clinic hopes to reach 15,000 patients over 18 months and encourage people to see primary care physicians and sign up for insurance. Commuters who need follow-up care will receive a free transportation voucher.
The funding was part of $7.3 million in grants that U.S. DOT awarded Monday to help 19 communities in 16 states use public transit to help people access non-emergency healthcare. The grants are aimed at improving the health of at-risk populations — such as the elderly, those with disabilities and low-income residents — who are more likely to struggle to access doctor appointments, healthy food and community services.
“People with limited access to reliable, safe transportation often miss their medical appointments, sometimes with dire consequences,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “These grants identify dozens of creative ways to address these problems, providing a lifeline to people who otherwise might skip healthcare visits.”
Other communities that received funding include Detroit and Flint, Michigan, which are both developing programs to provide transportation for older adults to doctor appointments, and health prevention activities, such as parks and farmers markets. A full list of communities that received a grant is here.
Kelsey E. Thomas is a former associate editor at Next City.