San Marcos,
13:41 PM

Grant to Allow CSUSM to Partner With TrueCare on Mobile Health Services

Cal State San Marcos has received a $300,000 grant from the largest private foundation in San Diego County to partner with a local health care provider to offer free services to underserved communities through a mobile health clinic.

The grant from The Conrad Prebys Foundation will allow CSUSM to team up with TrueCare, a community health center and nonprofit organization, to provide free health and wellness services in medically underserved areas of North County.

The grant money specifically will go to CSUSM’s College of Education, Health and Human Services. Over the next two years, CEHHS will deploy 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.

Jennifer Ostergren, dean of CEHHS, said the partnership with TrueCare will give students from the college’s seven disciplines – nursing, kinesiology, public health, human development, social work, speech-language pathology and education – valuable chances to intersect and work together.  

“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,” 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.”

This grant from The Conrad Prebys Foundation builds off work done through a previous award from the foundation. Last year, CSUSM received almost $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 whose two-year project explored the educational and community benefits of incorporating a mobile health unit into student learning experiences across CEHHS. In May, Mincey established a partnership between CEHHS and TrueCare via a Community Engaged Scholarship grant from CSUSM.

The grant created the CEHHS Mobile Wellness Initiative. On Aug. 12, the initiative held its first event as Mincey and CSUSM nursing and public health students joined TrueCare at its annual health fair and breast milk drive in San Marcos, working collaboratively to provide health promotion and education to families.  

The relationship with TrueCare deepened this summer as Ostergren connected with Michelle D. Gonzalez, TrueCare’s president and CEO and a member of the CEHHS dean’s advisory council and CSUSM president’s university council, as well as Anthony White, the organization’s vice president of government and community affairs. CEHHS and TrueCare applied together for the grant from The Conrad Prebys Foundation.

“We are excited to leverage the mutual benefits of this longstanding relationship to multiply the impact both TrueCare and Cal State San Marcos can have on the community,” White said. “By providing Cal State students with hands-on experience on our mobile units, together, we can close the gap on our regional health care needs and support the future generation of health professionals.”

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. Some of the funding will go toward renting a van equipped with medical supplies to complement TrueCare’s larger mobile units, but Ostergren hopes that this 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.

“It's important to show that we're not an island,” Ostergren said. “We're working with our partners to make life a little better for our community.”

The award to CSUSM is among grants to 18 clinics across the region, totaling $8.1 million, by The Conrad Prebys Foundation as part of its Strengthening Health Access, Resources and Excellence (SHARE) Initiative. The foundation launched the initiative in April, providing two-year, unrestricted grants of up to $250,000 per year to health clinics that effectively serve communities needing improved health services – especially Indigenous, immigrant and border residents.

“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.”