Most elementary school children identify with the McDonald's Restaurant character Ronald McDonald.
So it shouldn't have been too scary for New Castle Area School District students who were seen by the doctor and nurses inside the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile on Wednesday.
The medical clinic on wheels rolled into the parking lot of the Harry W. Lockley Early Learning Center in the morning and stayed until mid-afternoon, making its inaugural visit to the school district.
In partnership with the Ronald McDonald House — a spinoff nonprofit agency that provides sleeping quarters for parents with hospitalized children — UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh has a pediatric primary care center on wheels that visits different locales to provide child health services.
Debbie DeBlasio, assistant to the superintendent, said the mobile doctor's office will be visiting the school regularly from now on, the first and third Wednesdays of each month.
The traveling facility provides an array of medical services to students whose parents signed permission forms for them to receive care there.
"We asked the parents to sign up," DeBlasio said, adding, "This doesn't replace their regular doctor visits. This is in addition to those."
It's for people who cannot afford the co-pays for certain medical needs such as immunizations, for children who go to school sick, and for other needs. The services are provided free, she said.
The unit is staffed with medical personnel that provide child care, immunizations, adolescent health care, routine physical examinations and referrals for specialty care. Health education also is available for asthma, injury prevention, nutrition and health and safety, according to the facility's brochure.
The care mobile's decor includes a tree house and under the sea rooms which serve as a pleasant distraction to relieve children's fear and anxieties about seeing a doctor.
The mobile operates in partnership with school districts and other community partners.
DeBlasio said that parents who sign up their children for the clinic are encouraged to be there with them.
"Today was its first time in New Castle," she said Wednesday.