ICOM Student Doctors Unveil Mobile Medical Clinic

(L-R) Bart Wear, Director of Homes of Living Hope, alongside Student Doctors Stephen Hutchins, Krista Niezwaag, Albert Nakayama and Lijah Vann Gardner.

While the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) is known for its state-of-the-art facility, in the school’s satellite parking lot sits a mobile medical clinic of humble origin, built by students and destined to serve a community in need approximately 2,300 miles away. 

For the last two years, ICOM student doctors have worked to transform a shipping container into a standalone mobile medical clinic that features two exam rooms and a hybrid lobby/office area. The modular clinic will be transported to Lomas de San Isidro, Mexico, to serve a community living in extreme poverty.

“One of the greatest joys of this project has been in doing good for others, we tend to do great for ourselves,” said Student Doctor Krista Niezwaag, ICOM medical student and project lead. “We got to, every Saturday, have a place where students got to find connection, got to find worth in doing something with their hands, and got to find joy in the imperfect, which is not something we get to do in medical school very often.”

Equipped with a seaworthy shipping container donated by Engineered Structures, Inc. (ESI) and building materials donated by Franklin Building Supply, the future physicians dedicated their spare time to creating a fully functioning mobile medical clinic. 

“Student doctors enter the field of medicine because of their intrinsic desire to help people,” said Dr. Thomas J. Mohr, Dean and Chief Academic Officer of ICOM. “Projects such as this provide a wonderful mechanism to serve others while advancing on their journey to become physicians. This shipping container clinic will provide a venue for health care for needy populations for years to come.”

Through a partnership with Homes of Living Hope and Urban Mosaic, both nonprofit groups will assist in the transportation, relocation and implementation of the medical clinic to its new home in central Mexico. There, the container-turned-clinic will see approximately 1,000 patients each year and provide 300 families access to health care. 

“The mission of Homes of Living Hope is connecting communities through service,” said Bart Wear, Director of Homes of Living Hope. “We think there’s something special that happens when people come together and they’re able to serve others.”

From Meridian, the shipping container will be transported to Abilene, Texas, where medical equipment will be added inside the container before making the journey to Mexico. Once it reaches its final destination the finishing touches will be added, including windows and a front door. 

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