SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Baystate Health’s Wellness on Wheels (WOW) bus is making its way through local communities to provide education to community members, and training students in the health professions.

According to a news release sent to 22News from Baystate Health, the bus, which was originally scheduled to start last year, began making its rounds last week. The bus was financed through a $750,000 TD Ready Challenge grant from the TD Bank Group.

“The WOW Bus is an opportunity for us to join with stakeholders and the community by working hand-in-hand to identify and address gaps in healthcare services. Our goal is to provide those services to the most at-risk populations in a non-traditional health care setting right in their community, while eliminating barriers to access and resulting in better health outcomes,” said Lisa Clinton, a member of the WOW Bus Community Committee.

The ultimate goal of the bus is for team members to work with the community to provide health screenings, education, and referrals to low-to-moderate income and at-risk populations throughout the western region of the state. The bus will also be used to  to train medical students to serve urban and rural populations through the UMASS Chan Medical School-Baystate’s innovative PURCH track (Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health)

“It is the teaching component to the TD Bank funded program that makes it truly unique,” said Dr. Kevin Hinchey, chief education officer, Baystate Health. “The new mobile bus/classroom creates a community-centered model for interdisciplinary education. It is our hope as we train the next generation of healthcare professionals that they see themselves as community partners by bringing care directly into the community – and that they will be inspired to work with traditionally underserved populations once they enter the profession.”

Recently the bus has provided information on COVID-19 prevention and vaccination, and often accompanies the Baystate Health Mobile Vaccine Van at its community clinics.