St. Rita’s resident honored for community outreach, prevention work

LIMA — Dr. Jaymin Patel grew frustrated each time a patient came to the hospital with preventable illness, so the resident physician at Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center turned to a mobile health clinic to reach his patients sooner.

Patel, an internal medicine resident, has worked closely with Ohio Northern University’s HealthWise mobile health clinic during residency to expand the clinic’s services for people who lack access to routine health care.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education recently recognized Patel for his work with the mobile clinic and similar community outreach events, awarding him the David C. Leach award for innovation, efficiency and humanism in medicine.

ONU founded the mobile clinic — a 38-foot RV that travels through Hardin and Allen counties providing blood pressure checks, lipid panels, vaccinations and other preventative services in parking lots outside community centers like Our Daily Bread — in 2015 to reach medically underserved communities.

The clinic started working with Mercy Health residents like Patel in 2021, transforming the RV into what director Dr. Michael Rush described at the time as a “fully-functioning primary care office on wheels.”

When Patel came on board during his second year of residency, he saw an opportunity to reach those patients whose chronic conditions can still be managed, unlike many of the patients he sees at the hospital.

“I got really frustrated because all these things were preventable,” Patel said, “and when I asked people, ‘Did you ever have a screening? Did your doctor talk to you about this? And they were like, ‘We don’t really have doctors around our area; we don’t really see them for that reason.”

Now, residents on the RV provide full physical exams, order prescriptions and make appointments to follow up with people about their chronic conditions so they know what to do with their results, thanks in part to Patel’s work.

If a patient comes on board with a toothache or pneumonia, Patel said, resident physicians can order prescriptions and, in some cases, refer them to programs where they can get those medications for free.

Seven hundred patients have visited the mobile clinic in the last six months, Patel said.

Residents have diagnosed a variety of ailments like hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, COPD and lung cancer, and have seen patients on board whose health had declined because they stopped taking their medications, he said.

“Every patient counts,” Patel said. “We’re moving towards the goal of closing that gap between people who have resources to get good health care and those who do not.”