California State University San Marcos.
California State University San Marcos. Photo by Chris Stone

Cal State San Marcos has received a $300,000 grant from the Conrad Prebys Foundation to help offer free services to underserved communities through a mobile health clinic.

The largest private foundation in San Diego County provided the grant for CSUSM to team up with health care nonprofit TrueCare to provide free health and wellness services in medically underserved areas of North County.

According to the university, the grant money specifically will go to CSUSM’s College of Education, Health and Human Services. Over the next two years, the college will use the funds to hire a project coordinator, buy health care equipment and supplies, and send students into the community with health care professionals from TrueCare and alongside the organization’s fleet of mobile wellness units.

“Through this grant, our students will have a unique opportunity to work together with other disciplines in the college to provide services for and guided by our local community,” CEHHS Dean Jennifer Ostergren said.

“This type of community-informed and interdisciplinary experience will be transformative for them. I have no doubt our students will walk away from this experience with both a greater understanding of the needs of our local community and a greater appreciation for the many disciplines in the college,” she added.

This most recent grant adds to a previous Conrad Prebys Foundation award last year — $150,000 to support its faculty innovation fellows program, through which five faculty members were selected to “lead an entrepreneurial project while also serving as an innovation ambassador to other faculty.”

One of those innovation fellows was Matt Mincey, a nursing lecturer who helped established a partnership between CEHHS and TrueCare through a Community Engaged Scholarship grant from CSUSM.

Christina Holub, chair of CSUSM’s public health department, is serving as project coordinator until a permanent coordinator can be hired. Mincey will continue serving as a faculty lead.

According to a college statement, some of the funding will go toward renting a van equipped with medical supplies to complement TrueCare’s larger mobile units, but Ostergren hopes the project will lead to the college eventually having a mobile clinic of its own.

The program calls for CEHHS to do two to three community events per semester with TrueCare, and hundreds of community members are expected to be served at each event.

“Not only is this project providing essential health services for communities that need them most, but Cal State San Marcos is helping students receive valuable internship opportunities in a field that is struggling to fill health care positions,” said Grant Oliphant, CEO of The Conrad Prebys Foundation. “This is the kind of creative work that our community needs, and we are proud to support this terrific partnership.”

–City News Service