Photo: Nemours Children's Hospital
Dr. Laura Chilcutt treats uninsured children in her mobile clinic, providing free vaccines and preventive screenings.
Economic Backbone: Pediatrics
Doctor provides mobile medical care to uninsured children
Laura Chilcutt has always felt a calling to work with vulnerable populations. As a lawyer, she spent years championing the rights of immigrants and human trafficking and domestic violence victims for the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (now Americans for Immigrant Justice) and later at her own practice.
Making ends meet in that legal niche proved challenging, however, so Chilcutt forged a new career path. She earned her medical degree from the University of Central Florida in 2015 and landed a pediatric residency position at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Lake Nona in east Orlando.
It was there that Chilcutt came up with the idea of creating a mobile clinic for Central Florida’s uninsured children. With the support of a $25,000 grant from the TD Charitable Foundation, she launched the clinic in 2021 out of a repurposed Nemours van and travels the region providing free vaccines and preventive health screenings to children whose family income is less than or equal to 200% of the federal poverty level. Other Nemours providers also volunteer to staff the mobile unit.
“The interesting thing was how quickly the word got out,” says Chilcutt, who finished her residency at Nemours in June and has remained on faculty with a focus on integrating clinical and advocacy work. “We advertised in the schools, but also through the community organizations that we partnered with. Those organizations were already in the community, already had the trust of the families that we wanted to assist, and we basically just said, ‘We’ll come to you if you advertise to people you’re already working with.’ That way it’s just a more efficient system rather than replicating everything.”
The mobile clinic has already expanded its services. After Orange County began requiring tests for student athletes to rule out potentially dangerous heart conditions, the mobile clinic began offering free EKGs and sports physicals to qualifying students. If there’s an abnormal finding, children are referred to Shepherd's Hope, which operates several free health clinics in the area, for additional care. “We actually had a couple kids who screened positive for a few things who then got sent over and diagnosed and got treated promptly,” says Chilcutt.
Looking ahead, Chilcutt hopes Nemours Mobile Clinic can team up with an Orlando clinic that provides free dental care to kids and envisions joint visits to schools, during which children would be able to get an array of medical needs addressed. Another objective is to perform a community needs assessment as she develops additional health equity projects.
“One of my goals is to use the mobile clinic (as well as other projects) to do surveys and really talk to the families in the community and really figure out what is it that they need most,” Chilcutt says. “Is it food insecurity? And if we could find a way to get healthier foods into the neighborhood, would that be the most important thing to them? Or is there something else that would be more useful?”