It is not easy for villagers living in mountainous areas to see a doctor in hospitals in the county due to inconvenient and costly transportation.
However, residents from the remote and rural areas in the mountainous Yanchuan County in the city of Yan'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, now have access to high-quality door-to-door medical services thanks to mobile hospitals.
As one of the last two impoverished counties to announce having shaken off poverty Tuesday, Yanchuan has a population of 192,000, 22,135 of whom are impoverished.
The biggest challenge facing the county is illness-caused poverty. A total of 3,285 households were poverty-stricken as a result of serious diseases or chronic diseases, accounting for 45.3 percent of the county's impoverished population, said Zhang Feng, deputy director of the county's health bureau.
To cope with the problem, the county launched 13 mobile hospitals in 2017 to provide medical service to its 163 villages scattered in the mountainous areas on the Loess Plateau, according to Zhang.
The mobile hospitals equipped with first-aid equipment and necessary medical facilities were transformed from ambulances.
Each mobile hospital has five medical workers on board, including a village doctor, general practitioner, nurse, remote medical consultation operating staff and clinical staff, said Guo Bao, director of the health center of Guanzhuang Township.
Yanchuan has cooperated with a number of prestigious hospitals in Beijing on remote medical consultation. Doctors in mobile hospitals can send a patient's test results to experienced doctors via the online medical consultation system and get advice and prescription quickly, according to Guo.
"In this way, patients with complicated or serious diseases can see an experienced doctor and prevent the condition from getting worse," Guo said.
The mobile hospital visits each impoverished household in the township at least once a month to learn the condition of the patients and provide door-to-door medical service to them.
Huang Guiying, who lives in Dazhang Village, Guanzhuang Township, has benefited from the mobile hospital. Suffering from diabetes for years, she was diagnosed with coronary heart disease in 2017 by the hospital.
Then, Huang had a coronary bypass operation in Xi'an, which cost her 180,000 yuan. Medical insurance covered most of her medical fees.
Huang lives alone. Her husband and two sons died years ago. Her third son is working as a migrant worker outside of their hometown most of the year. As a result of the complication of diabetes, she can not see clearly. The doctors in the mobile hospital have made friends with her and frequently visit her home to check on her health condition.
"If it were not for the doctors and the policy covering most of my fees, I won't survive," the 63-year-old woman said.
Gao Xuefeng, a village doctor in Dazhang Village, said local residents used to be reluctant to see a doctor in town, let alone to travel a long way to go to a hospital in the county seat dozens of kilometers away.
The mobile hospitals have completely changed their lives. Villagers from registered poor households can receive treatment and prescription medicine offered by the mobile hospital for free, according to Zhang.
Apart from providing regular medical service to poor households, the mobile hospitals also offer free basic physical checks for villagers over 50 years old across the county to prevent serious illness and illness-caused poverty from the source, said Zhang.
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