Versatile mobile medical van reaches those in need
Driving through the wandering hills in eastern Kentucky known to the locals as hollers, the Heart to Heart International Mobile Medical Van met dozens of families isolated for more than a week by the Kentucky flooding in August of 2022. Because of partnerships with local medical professionals, the FedEx-sponsored van was filled with the patient’s prescriptions, medicines and much needed medical supplies to hand deliver to the families who had been trapped in their homes for days. When the van pulled into the holler, people waded through the waist-deep water to receive their insulin, post-operation treatment and supplies, high blood pressure medicine and much more. The van was the link to lifesaving healthcare for these communities.
The Mobile Medical Van is a versatile and nimble vehicle that provides lifesaving healthcare to communities affected by disasters. Equipped with patient treatment capabilities, lighting, medical supply storage, plumbing, and an external power source, the van’s value is in its ability to reach remote areas and provide quality care in the field.
Shortly after the flooding in Kentucky, Hurricane Ian made landfall on September 28, bringing with it devastating rainfall, flooding, storm surges and damaging winds across Florida and other parts of the Southeast. HHI deployed disaster response teams along with its 45-foot Mobile Medical Unit and Mobile Medical Van packed full of hygiene kits and other supplies needed after this type of disaster.
The medical team established a location in Arcadia, Florida, to provide healthcare to a community that was already under-resourced and then was then hit hard by Hurricane Ian. Working in coordination with the DeSoto County Emergency Operations Center, the team treated hundreds of people at an emergency distribution center, including electrical linemen who travel in from out of town and often sustain injuries during cleanup efforts.
A wooden cable spool carrying electrical line fell on one of the visiting linemen and severely cut his arm. His wife, who was traveling with him, convinced him to come to the mobile medical clinic where a wound care specialist was able to treat the wound and provide his wife with proper care instructions for the road home.
The Delta Health Center building in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, was demolished by a tornado on March 25, 2023. The clinic, a nonprofit primary care community health center born out of the civil rights movement, immediately went to work after the tornado hit and began serving its population under a tent. A nearby electrical pole then fell on the tent, destroying their supplies and the tent.
HHI was able to respond to the clinic’s needs quickly by deploying a disaster team, the Mobile Medical Unit, Mobile Medical Van and a portable medical clinic in a shipping container that will remain on site while the Delta Health Center rebuilds.
The Delta Health Center staff has been incredibly thankful to have a safe and private place to treat patients rather than an open-air tent. Within hours of arriving, nurses were able to treat a worker helping to clean up storm debris. He complained of a spider bite and difficulty breathing. The medical team administered oxygen, drained fluid from the bite and quickly assessed and provided treatment in a sterile and confidential environment.
More than a dozen elderly patients in a nursing home in the area hadn’t received outside medical care for more than a week. With the mobile medical van, Delta staff and Heart to Heart International disaster team members were able to deliver supplies, provide comfort and offer treatment.
“Now that we have the van to go along with our larger response vehicles, we have the ability to move around and truly help those in the community who may be homebound or in a remote location where they can’t reach our clinic,” said Maddy Langemach, Disaster Response Specialist for Heart to Heart International. “This has given us such an advantage as we work to continue to improve our disaster response efforts.”
***Photo credit Heart to Heart International