Through its new mobile clinic, Plan A is providing people in underserved areas of the Mississippi Delta with a variety of health care services. With an emphasis on improving sexual and reproductive health, their mobile clinic services are provided at no cost to the patient. Mississippi Today recently spoke with Juliet Thomas, Plan A’s Community Health Worker, to learn more about the non-profit and its mission.
Juliet Thomas, a native of Greenville, has worked for more than 20 years as an advocate for underserved communities, mostly in the Delta.
Mississippi Today: Why is a service like Plan A needed in the Delta?
Juliet Thomas: In the Mississippi Delta, we have a lot of people that are underserved in their health care. All people are concerned about their health and want access to care, but there are barriers there that limit them from going, at no fault of their own. They might not have insurance or they have insurance but they can’t afford to pay the copay. We’ve had a lot of hospitals and clinics close here, not because they were not providing good service, but because of money issues. Transportation is a problem, especially in rural communities, so just getting to a clinic is hard for some people. So with the mobile clinic, we are trying to come in and bridge that gap, whatever it is. MT: What is the goal of Plan A’s focus on reproductive and sexual health?
JT: We’re trying to empower women and also educate them. When you don’t know the importance of this area of health care, you might be a little wary, but when you know the background and understand why it’s important to get these screenings and such it makes people more comfortable with receiving that care. Women, we tend to be the person that takes care of everybody else and sometimes we neglect ourselves. So Plan A is coming into these areas to help women take care of themselves.
MT: How are you connecting and building trust with the people in these communities you’re trying to serve?
JT: We are relying on the people in these communities to help us get the word out. In a small community, word of mouth is the way to go and that’s what we’ve been doing. Once we talk to one person, then they’ll say you need to talk to so and so. They have connected us to elected officials, community leaders, nurses They have been very receptive to us and have helped us build those relationships.