Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles

The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile offers free dental services for children and youth through age 19. The program began in March 2004 and to date has served over 2,900 individual children. The services are provided through the Dental Collaborative of Contra Costa between RMHC of the Bay Area, the County Oral Health Program, La Clinica de la Raza, Brookside Community Health Center, and John Muir Community Health Alliance. Each partner provides a critical part of the service. RMHC of the Bay Area provided the fully equipped mobile clinic. The County provides screening and education in low income schools, health fairs and in various community based settings. La Clinica and Brookside provide the dental care, patient registration, assistance with enrollment in programs for which the patient may be eligible, and assistance in identifying and establishing a connection to a dental and medical home for the child and the family. John Muir Community Health Alliance provides the clinic, driver, and program coordination

Exam and treatment options include:

  • Emergency palliative treatment - including extractions, pulpal therapy and temporary restorations
  • Complete oral examinations and radiographs
  • Dental preventive education
  • Oral prophylaxis, topical fluoride treatments and sealants
  • Routine restorative services - for primary and permanent teeth in children
  • Extractions - not requiring specialty intervention

The program objectives are:

Objective 1: Reduce barriers to care
  Subgoal 1: Every child has a dental home.
  Subgoal 2: Children who are seen by Dental Care Mobile staff are enrolled in a dental/medical insurance program (i.e. Medi-Cal, Healthy Families).
  Subgoal 3: Oral health services are provided in new sites to reduce geographical barriers to care.

Objective 2: Improve the dental health of under-served children
  Subgoal 1: Children receive appropriate oral health services.
  Subgoal 2: Children receive oral health education and screening services.
  Subgoal 3: Children receive emergency oral health treatments.

Objective 3: Assure the sustainability of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile
  Subgoal 1: The Care Mobile is financially sustained.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program?

The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program was developed and officially launched in August 2000 as the primary example of Ronald McDonald House Charities’ (RMHC) global mission to improve the health and well being of children around the world. Need knows no boundaries, so we are passionate about our efforts to address the issues impacting children. As such, the program has been structured to be truly global in reach and local in impact.

Each local Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program is developed based on a relationship with local healthcare organizations, to bring cost effective, high quality medical and dental care directly to underserved children in both rural and urban areas, domestically and internationally. All services are provided in 40-foot, 26,000 pound, state-of-the-art vehicles which are built specifically for the delivery of pediatric healthcare services.

RMHC’s goal for the program is simple: we view this program as the next generation of health care that will help children in need, with the goal of becoming as prevalent in communities around the world as our Ronald McDonald Houses are today.

What type of services do the Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles provide?

The Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles provide immunizations and health screenings, diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease, preventive and restorative dental care and health education to children who otherwise would go without health care.

Specific services are determined based on the unique needs of the community that the program serves. These services may include primary care, well-child visits, developmental screening, immunizations, preventive and restorative dental care, dental hygiene education, asthma prevention and treatment, pulmonary function testing, school and sports physicals, prenatal care for pregnant teens, injury prevention education, nutrition counseling, mental health services and other pediatric specialty services, such as cardiology and ENT.

To provide these services, each vehicle includes two patient examination rooms, a laboratory, a reception area and a medical records area.

Who staffs the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile?

Staffing varies based on market and may include a pediatrician, a pediatric nurse, a dental hygienist, a dentist and program manager; other staff members may include a social worker and other pediatric specialists. In most cases, these staff members are full or part-time paid employees that have been hired by the healthcare organization. Additionally, most programs choose to supplement their staff with a rotating base of volunteers, medical/dental students and nursing students.

In an effort to provide continuity of care and consistency, however, it is important to note that there is always a core staff that serves the community on a regular basis. The rotating staff merely complements the core staff.

In what cities does the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program operate and what are the plans for program expansion?

Through a relationship with local healthcare organizations, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program is currently in operation in the following twelve cities: Worcester, MA; Pittsburgh, PA.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; San Jose, CA; Billings, MT; Houston, TX; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Philadelphia, PA; Hilton Head Island, SC; Spokane, WA; Madison, WI; and, Springfield, MO. Other cities to begin Ronald McDonald Care Mobile programs in 2003 include: Chicago, IL; Lexington, KY; Reno, NV; Chattanooga, TN; Contra Costa County, CA; Denver, CO; and, El Paso, TX. It is the Charities’ goal to have 50 successful programs in operation by 2005.

Does the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile only treat children?

To be consistent with the mission of RMHC, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile provides healthcare and educational services to children ages 0 – 21.

Does the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program replace regular visits to a doctor or dentist’s office?

It is important to note that services provided on board the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile do NOT replace regular visits to a doctor or a dentist’s office. Rather, the program is a point of entry into a regular pattern of health care for underserved children with the goal of connecting the child and his/her family to a medical and/or dental home.

In some cases, we understand that the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile will need to be the “medical or dental home” for the child because of a severe lack of healthcare providers in the community or the limited number of providers that will accept children with Medicaid, etc. However, to date these types of programs have been more of the exception than the rule.

Who operates the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in each local market?

RMHC Global grants the fully-equipped vehicle with medical and/or dental capabilities to the selected local healthcare organization. Operational and administrative expenses (estimated at $300K/year) are then covered by the local RMHC Chapter (at a minimum of $25K/year) and healthcare organization. *Note that, beginning January 1, 2004, local RMHC Chapters are not eligible to use their Matching Grant dollars from RMHC Global toward the $25K requirement.
All clinical and educational services performed on board are coordinated and administered by the staff that has been hired by the healthcare organization. As such, the parties of the Grant & License Agreement are RMHC Global and the healthcare organization that has 501(c)(3) status.

What type of organization qualifies as the “healthcare organization” or “clinical service provider” for the local program?

The party with whom RMHC Global executes the Grant & License Agreement must have 501(c)(3) status and have a mission that complements that of RMHC. To date, the healthcare organizations/clinical service providers have been community hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, county hospitals, outpatient clinics and independent groups of physicians/dentists. Specific healthcare organization accountabilities (particularly in regard to liability, insurance, indemnification and reporting) can be found in the Grant & License Agreement.

Do children or their families have to pay for healthcare services provided by the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile?

All services offered on board the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile are provided free of charge to children and their families. That is to say, no out-of-pocket expenses are incurred and no child is denied care based on ability to pay. However, reimbursement from a third party, such as Medicaid, is sought if applicable, as is sliding-scale payment that complements the pay schedule already in place at the base of operations.

Moreover, in conjunction with their visits to the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, parents or guardians will have the opportunity to enroll their child(ren) into a federally-assisted health insurance program, to help ensure future access to health care.

What are the first steps in bringing the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile to my community?

The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program is a wonderful, feel-good program, however, the decision to develop and operate the program should not be made without careful thought and planning.

The first step toward bringing a Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program to your community is securing the commitment of your local RMHC Board to pursue the program. Remember that this commitment has financial, operational and administrative considerations.

After your local RMHC Chapter makes a commitment to the program, you will then select a clinical service provider and begin conducting your Community Needs Assessment and developing your Business Plan.

To assist you with your initial planning, we have prepared a packet containing more detailed information on the planning process. This packet can be obtained from RMHC Global by calling Laurel Schumm, Program Manager, at (630) 623-3301.

If the local RMHC Chapter doesn’t perform any of the clinical services, what are other ways in which they are involved in the program? Should the Chapter just consider this program as another local grant?

During your planning, it is extremely important to keep in mind that the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program is an RMHC-branded program and not just another local grant for the local RMHC Chapter. As a highly visible program, it should be viewed just like the Ronald McDonald House program in terms of the local Chapter’s commitment to operations, administration and fundraising. While RMHC does not provide the actual clinical services, we are there to support the clinical service providers every step of the way.

The relationship between Ronald McDonald Care Mobile programs and local RMHC Chapters will vary from program to program, depending on need and availability of resources. In addition to the minimum $25K/year financial commitment to the program, local RMHC Chapter support may include:

  • Ongoing financial contribution toward operational and administrative expenses (required)
  • Identifying and enlisting other local program sponsors
  • Identifying and securing additional sources of funding
  • Identifying and obtaining local, state and federal grants to support program
  • Partnering in fundraising activities and community events: visits from Ronald McDonald, providing volunteers, promoting/advertising events
  • Helping to identify community needs and resources
  • Identifying and gaining the support of other community partners
  • Serving on the program’s advisory council
  • Recommending and securing local healthcare delivery sites
  • Advertising/promoting Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program in McDonald’s restaurants located near healthcare delivery sites (posters, flyers, brochures, banners)
  • Providing giveaways to children seen on the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile (requires prior approval of the healthcare organization’s Risk Management Department)
  • Partnering with Ronald McDonald Care Mobile staff in health education events such as health fairs and community screenings
  • Distributing health education literature in McDonald’s restaurants located near healthcare delivery sites

How have McDonald’s restaurants, franchises and management supported the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile programs in their respective communities?

To date, McDonald’s restaurant support of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile has been tremendous as the program truly exemplifies the McDonald’s philosophy of giving back to the communities where we do business.

For example, McDonald’s restaurants have been instrumental in the following ways:

  • Providing giveaways (BOG cards, Happy Meal Toys, etc.) for all children seen on board the vehicle
  • Promoting the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile on trayliners and on flyers distributed in drive-thru bags
  • Distributing health education literature in their restaurants
  • Providing refreshments for local program launches and special events (such as health fairs)
  • Securing parking lot space on restaurant property for health fairs and other special events
  • Recommending and securing local healthcare delivery sites based on existing community relationships
  • Regularly updating the local co-op on program successes
  • Serving as spokespersons for local media events

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