UW News

April 30, 2021

UW’s new Mobile Health & Outreach Van will serve community and student experience

UW News

People around medical van

Members of the University of Washington’s Health Sciences schools unveiled the new Mobile Health & Outreach Van on Friday.Kiyomi Taguchi/University of Washington

Getting basic health care to medically underserved populations in Seattle, while providing real-world experience for students hoping to practice in a health care field, takes wheels.

Now, through a student-led, interdisciplinary effort by health science departments at the University of Washington, those “wheels” are ready. The new UW Mobile Health & Outreach Van was presented to the public at a ribbon-cutting event on Friday.

“In addition to working alongside faculty and staff, students alone have demonstrated an enormous amount of leadership that has catapulted this dream of project into reality,” Tracy Brazg, director of UW Health Sciences Interprofessional Education, said at Friday’s event. “I’ve watched social work and public health students take a lead in developing approaches to resource navigation, and a dietetics student helped develop a scope of practice document to better understand what each profession does clinically at what stage of their training. Graduate nursing students have brought their strong RN skillsets to outreaches, lending a steady hand for measuring vitals and confidence in their approach to engaging with patients. Medical, pharmacy, MEDEX, physical therapy and undergraduate nursing students show up ready to work on their clinical skills — open to the opportunity to slow down and take time to get to know the folks we are serving.”

The Health & Outreach Van will enable students, and their faculty advisors, to provide care where it is needed most. Their objective is to fill in gaps in healthcare by working with a range of communities from those living on streets or in Tiny Villages to uninsured clients at local health fairs. The students involved come from the UW health sciences fields of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, social work and public health.

The new van has a clinical space with a sink, an exam table, counter space, shelving, a roof solar panel and an awning. The basic van, before it was decked out, was purchased by UW School of Medicine Service Learningprogram with an anonymous donation. With additional money from a grant and other UW schools and programs within the Health Sciences and with organization and backing from the Center for Health Sciences Interprofessional Education, Research and Practice, the basic van was converted into a mobile clinical rig.

“The new UW Health Sciences and School of Medicine Outreach vehicle has been years in the making and we are tremendously excited about it. Having a van with a clinical space will greatly enhance our street medicine and community health outreach services in the U District and beyond. Our new vehicle has an exam table, warm water, good lighting and many of the amenities that will allow us to serve our clients better,” said Dr. Genevieve Pagalilauan, an associate professor of medicine at the School of Medicine and an original organizer of the van project.

Students and organizers of the outreach van project work with University District Street Medicine, the Community Health Advancement Program and other groups. They hope to expand the reach of the van, its equipment and its crew as more funding becomes available.

The UW Mobile Health & Outreach Van conversion was supported by funding from the Pacific Hospital Preservation and Development Authority.

For more information contact Leonora Clarke, UW School of Medicine Service Learning Manager, at clarkel@uw.edu.

… and the new UW Mobile Health & Outreach Van is ready to roll.Dana Brooks/for the University of Washington