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Here is where you can find news about Jonesboro, Craighead County, and Arkansas at large, as well as news for Missouri and Tennessee.

NEA Baptist says $1.6 million 'Big Blue' mobile health unit will provide service to rural communities

 NEA Baptist CEO Sam Lynd announcing a $1.6 million donation from Kim and Chris Fowler to purchase a new mobile health unit, nicknamed "Big Blue".  It's expected to be completed by the end of October 2022
Brandon Tabor
/
KASU
NEA Baptist CEO Sam Lynd announcing a $1.6 million donation from Kim and Chris Fowler to purchase a new mobile health unit, nicknamed "Big Blue". It's expected to be completed by the end of October 2022

A recent multi-million dollar donation to the NEA Baptist Charitable Foundation will go toward providing healthcare to many underserved communities across Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri.

The foundation on Wednesday announced that philanthropist Kim and Chris Fowler donated $1.6 million to purchase a new mobile health unit nicknamed "Big Blue." NEA Baptist says "Big Blue" will be equipped with technology to allow physicians to provide multiple services, such as breast cancer screenings, wellness and preventative visits, community health screenings, sports physicals and in-game-athletics clinics, and vaccination clinics.

Kim Fowler said accessibility to healthcare is a primary concern for her and Chris.

"We know that [the mobile health unit] will truly impact rural areas," Kim Fowler said. "Someone getting early detection of something that can be cured, something that can be treated, this will take this to them rather than have them come to the facility."

"Big Blue" is also expected to be equipped with mobile digital x-ray equipment, a mammography unit, lab equipment, and exam space for patients.

Big Blue NEA Baptist Mobile Health Unit
Brandon Tabor
/
KASU
Mock up of the Big Blue NEA Baptist Mobile Health Unit

Chris Fowler said the mobile health unit will be less of an inconvenience for people living outside of Jonesboro while providing them with the treatment they need.

"What we can do is make it easier to come to the truck—to 'Big Blue', instead of having to drive to Jonesboro and take half-a-day off of work, or take kids out of school," said Chris Fowler. "If we can achieve all of those things, it'd be a success."

NEA Baptist has been working with mobile health unit manufacturer Odulair to construct the mobile health unit. Sam Lynd, CEO and administrator of NEA Baptist, said they are now finalizing the specs with Odulair for "Big Blue". He said work is being done on it, but the pandemic is having a slight impact on the project.

"As we know, the supply chain dictates a lot these days," Lynd said, "but we project a 6-8 month construction time to it being on the road. Within that time frame, once we begin construction, then we will also be building up our operations team and be ready to launch."

Lynd said "Big Blue" aligns with the hospital's vision of reaching patients wherever they are.

"We know there's huge, unmet needs in communities in Jonesboro and outside of Jonesboro across our region," Lynd said. "The purpose of this gift from Kim and Chris Fowler is to bring that care where it's needed most."

The mobile health unit is expected to be completed by the end of October 2022.

Updated: February 17, 2022 at 9:21 AM CST
Added a close up picture of the Big Blue mock up.
A Northeast Arkansas native from Wynne, I’ve been involved with radio for about 15 years. I got my Bachelor of Arts degree from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, where I also served as an award-winning News Director for 2 years at KSWH-LP.