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OU architecture students, faculty develop mobile medical unit for rural tribe members with Wichita, affiliated tribes

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A group of people stand outside the exterior of the mobile medical clinic, created by OU faculty and students in the Gibbs College of Architecture and members of the Wichita tribe and affiliated tribes. 

OU faculty and students in the Gibbs College of Architecture partnered with the Wichita tribe and affiliated tribes, first delivered June 30 to Anadarko, Oklahoma, to develop a mobile medical unit to meet the needs of rural tribe members.

The medical unit includes multiple pre-cut and prepared materials designed for easy construction, according to a university release. The Wichita and affiliated tribes will use the unit to provide service to tribal members in southern and southwestern regions of Oklahoma who would otherwise not have access to a health clinic. 

The project is being led by Bryan Bloom, an assistant professor in the Haskell and Irene Lemon Construction Science division and Ken Marold, an assistant professor in the division of architecture.

OU students enrolled in Bloom’s Spring 2021 “Design + Build” class assisted in crafting the unit, according to the release.  

“I wanted to take this class to have the opportunity to give back to the community,” construction science senior Asael Herrara said in the release. “I didn’t know it would be a medical mobile unit, but it’s amazing to give back to our community in this way. This is a great experience because there are people learning and teaching across a variety of construction backgrounds.” 

Lancer Stephens, an OU associate professor in the Hudson College of Public Health, said in the release the mobile clinic has a “multipurpose blueprint,” allowing for food and water distribution, cooling stations, well-checks, vaccinations and other outreach opportunities to serve the tribe. 

“If there’s one thing the past 16 months has taught us, it is to prepare for the unexpected,” Stephens said in the release. “While we never hope for there to be another epidemic or disaster in the communities of Anadarko and surrounding rural areas, there is a possibility for natural disasters such as wildfires and tornados.” 

The mobile medical unit is also a product of OU’s community engagement initiative, according to the release, which provides opportunities for civic engagement and leadership development for OU students, faculty and community members. 

“I’ve been very fortunate to see this project come to fruition from both sides, the university side as an employee and the Wichita side as an enrolled member,” Stephens said in the release. “Additionally, I appreciated the opportunity to speak with the students that (are) working on the project … and share some of the rich cultural history of the Wichita tribe as well as the many tribal nations of Oklahoma. I believe it helped the students in understanding that this wasn’t just a project for a grade, but a real opportunity for them to take part in something that was going to provide years of service and make a real difference to a community.”

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