C.J. Tobe: Success of DAP Health’s mobile clinic occurs every time it is in the community
By Robert Hopwood
A homeless man showed up at DAP Health’s mobile clinic to get clothes and other services. The gentleman came for winter clothes, STI and HIV testing, and hygiene kits.
C.J. Tobe, director of Community Health for DAP Health, watched as he created a jumble with the winter clothes donated by Revivals Stores, DAP Health’s retail partner. Tobe then asked if he could help.
“I am so sorry to bother you if I am making a mess and taking a long time,” he said. “My eyes are bad, and I can’t see the size.”
“You can take as much time as you need, and I’ll gladly help you find your size if you can tell it to me,” Tobe said. “I have a hearing disability and can’t hear well, so please speak up if you wish.”
“I can’t see, and you can’t hear, looks like we will make a good team,” he said. “I am a large and size 36.”
“We are in this together,” Tobe said as he searched for the man’s sizes.
This story is about one of the many encounters Tobe has had with DAP Health’s mobile team.
“Any time I am able to break away from meetings and join our mobile team in the community, I am reminded how much our services are needed, how much they are appreciated, and how one conversation can change a life,” Tobe said.
We talked with C.J. Tobe about the mobile clinic and its future. Here are his answers.
Question: How long have you been working with the mobile clinic?
Answer: I have been working with the mobile clinic for almost three years. However, the mobile clinic has been with DAP Health since the onset of the Get Tested Coachella Valley Campaign that launched in 2014.
Q: Where do you take the mobile clinic?
A: To homeless encampments throughout the Coachella Valley; organizations that support our homeless neighbors, like Well in the Desert, Martha’s Village and the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission; The James O Jessie Unity Center; treatment facilities and recovery centers; health fairs; food distribution sites; and more.
Q. Who do you meet when you go out with the mobile clinic?
A: We see everyone through the mobile clinic because DAP Health accepts all people. Period. Typically, the people we see are unable to come to us because one of the many social determinants of health prevents them from seeking services.
Q. What is one of the biggest misconceptions about the mobile clinic?
A: That it only provides HIV testing. The mobile clinic now offers many more services.
Q: What do you hope to achieve with the mobile clinic(s)?
A: I hope the mobile clinic is one of many significant ways of addressing health inequities that have been going on for centuries. I hope the mobile clinics represent our commitment to the community who cannot seek medical services on their own. I hope our compassionate mobile staff re-establish trust in communities that may have been mistreated, stigmatized, or not heard from for far too long.
Q: How would you like to see the mobile clinic evolve?
I’d also like to see the mobile clinic evolve into a robust, stigma-free, compassionate sexual wellness clinic providing testing, treatment, community resources, insurance enrollment, and linkage to ongoing healthcare services at the place of the client’s choosing. I want to see the mobile clinic save more lives than it already has by coming to where people are located. I want the community to know that we know you are struggling even though we may not fully understand, so talk to us, let us support you on your journey.
Q: How did the pandemic impact the work of Community Health?
A: The biggest regret I have is not being able to provide mobile services on a larger scale to the community quicker than we have. The COVID-19 pandemic showed how vital mobile services are and how quickly they may be needed. My impatience may be a flaw, but it drives me to continue improving access to vital services to the community.
Q. How do you measure success?
To me, outside of achieving grant deliverables and internal programmatic goals, the success of the mobile clinic occurs every time it is out in the community because people are receiving food, drinks and hygiene kits; getting tested; learning their status; getting treated; and connecting to community resources they wouldn’t have before..