UNC Greensboro School of Nursing Dean Debra J. Barksdale cuts the ribbon on Minerva's Mobile Health during a ceremony on campus.

Holding a large pair of scissors, UNC Greensboro School of Nursing Dean Debra J. Barksdale smiled Friday as she cut the ribbon to celebrate the school’s newest addition – a mobile clinic named Minerva’s Mobile Health. 

A large crowd gathered outside the Foust Building to watch as the School of Nursing officially unveiled the mobile health unit at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The UNCG-themed vehicle has an exam room, a waiting area for patients, a bathroom, and a wheelchair lift for anyone with mobility challenges. 

“Now, with Minerva’s Mobile Health, we will be bringing our School of Nursing students, faculty, and staff to rural and underserved communities to make a remarkable, real-world impact,” said Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. “Our collective goal is simple: serve our neighbors by providing health care while educating tomorrow’s nurses with hands-on lifesaving skills – right in the communities that need them most.” 

UNCG Chancellor Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Minerva's Mobile Health.

Coincidentally, Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony was held the day before the two-year anniversary of another major milestone in the School of Nursing. On Aug. 12, 2021, Barksdale was part of the ribbon-cutting to celebrate the opening of the Nursing and Instructional Building, the School of Nursing’s new home.

Minerva’s Mobile Health was made possible thanks to funding that the School of Nursing, in partnership with Cone Health, received last year from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The HRSA grant is for $3.7 million over four years. 

Students in UNCG’s bachelor of science in nursing program, as well as nurse practitioner students in the graduate program, will get clinical experiences in the mobile health unit and at pop-up clinics eventually in six counties – Alamance, Caswell, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, and Rockingham. 

The School of Nursing’s partnership with Cone Health is innovative in that it will use data science to predict the locations of populations in rural and underserved communities in The Piedmont that are most in need of health care services. The mobile health unit will head to those communities. 

“While health care is a fundamental human right, it’s unfortunately one that not everyone in North Carolina has access to,” Barksdale said. “And through our partnership with Cone Health, we’ll have data to show us where there are vulnerable populations in the Piedmont Triad. This data will help guide us.” 

Mission Mobile Medical, a Greensboro-based mobile health clinic manufacturer, transformed a Thor A.C.E. motorhome into Minerva’s Mobile Health for the School of Nursing. 

Story by Alex Abrams, School of Nursing 

Photography by Sean Norona