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Healthcare on wheels

Healthcare on wheels

La Crosse alumni the driving force behind Rotary Mobile Clinic

From left to right: Rotarians Josh Mansee, '10; Janie Morgan, ’85 & ’86; Marissa Dickinson; and Dean Dickinson, ’68; show off St. Clare Health Mission's new Rotary Mobile Clinic. UWL alumni were critical in securing funding for the project.

Posted 1:23 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18, 2023

A new mobile clinic is delivering healthcare to those who would otherwise struggle to get it — thanks in large part to the support of UWL alumni.

The Rotary Mobile Clinic, owned and operated by St. Clare Health Mission in La Crosse, provides vital services to people who are uninsured or underinsured, as well as those living in rural areas who cannot easily make it to a clinic or hospital.

The clinic-on-wheels — a 25-foot, 260-square-foot truck equipped to handle primary care, wound care, vaccinations and more — was made possible through fundraising by area Rotary Clubs.

Janie Morgan, ’85 & ’86 (La Crosse-Valley View), Josh Mansee, ’10 (La Crosse After Hours), and Dean Dickinson, ’68 (La Crosse-Downtown), were instrumental in bringing the clinic to life.

“Just hearing the stories and understanding the need that is out there — it just blew me away,” says Morgan, executive director of strategic engagement at UWL. “St. Clare is wonderful, but it’s a stationary site, and there are all these people in our area who can’t get there for a physical or a toothache or whatever their issue is. I think that struck everybody.”

Mansee notes that local Rotarians have a long history of supporting projects in La Crosse and around the world. But not all of these projects have directly served rural communities.

That’s why the idea of a mobile clinic was so appealing.

“Rotary is more than park benches and shelters and things people see every day in La Crosse,” Mansee explains. “We help around the world a lot, and in La Crosse, so we wanted to find something we could do to reach out to the surrounding communities. This really tells a great story of what Rotary can do.”

Initially, the group hoped to raise $40,000 from Rotary members and another $40,000 from community members. That sum would be tripled through matching gifts from Rotary District 6250 and the Rotary International Foundation. 

Pat Stephens, '71 (La Crosse East), and Bob Newberry, '78 (La Crosse Valley View), also served on the committee overseeing the project.

They ultimately surpassed their fundraising goal, generating $160,000 through local gifts and another $170,000 through matching gifts.

These funds covered the fabrication of the vehicle, as well as creation of a legacy fund covering maintenance and equipment.

The Rotary Mobile Clinic is equipped to handle primary care, wound care, vaccinations and more.

Already, the clinic is making an impact. In its first six months of operation, the clinic delivered health care to more than 300 people.

Jason Larsen, executive director of St. Clare Health Mission, remembers that during the clinic’s first official run, there were 19 cars lined up with children needing sports physicals.

“It was an incredible start,” says Larsen, a Rotarian himself. “The doctors couldn’t believe how many people they were seeing.”

Project leaders hope the clinic will continue to gain steam, providing more services to more communities.

Dickinson says this kind of transformational project is only possible in a place like La Crosse, where there’s a strong sense of community and philanthropy — as well as many UWL alumni seeking to make a difference.

“I’ve always felt a strong affection for the greater La Crosse community, and the university is a big part of that,” Dickinson notes. “La Crosse as a community is historically significant, safe, warm, inviting, culturally rich and a place where everyone in our community is welcome. People here take care of themselves, and they also take care of each other.”


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