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New Mobile Medical Unit to Take to the Streets

A doctor’s office on wheels, which looks just like an RV on the outside, is taking to the streets Monday.

Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s (PMHS) new mobile medical unit features: three private examine rooms, one for therapy and psychiatric evaluation, and the other two are physical exam rooms, one of which can double as a dental clinic.

“For all practical purposes, the luxury on the inside is as good as any physician’s office in town, but it offers that level of care to people who don’t normally get it,” said PMHS CEO Ray Wolfe.

The $310,000 mobile unit is for two of PMHS’s programs: Pittsburgh Mercy Family Health Center (PMFHC), which will provide primary care services to patients who cannot make the trips into the office, and Operation Safety Net, which drives around Pittsburgh to serve the homeless by performing medical examinations, and treating their illnesses.

PMHS had a mobile unit before, but the converted old bread truck was worn out. The old truck was for simple exams and passing out sweaters and socks to the homeless, and could not be used for full exams.

The new mobile unit is 13-feet high and 39-feet long. It has running water, a wheelchair lift, a/c and heat, a pharmacy, and a simple lab to draw blood and test specimens. Patients will be able to receive routine physical exams, diagnostic screenings, chronic disease management, routine gynecological exams, immunizations, school and sport physicals, Medicare and WIC exams and many more services.

“That doesn’t sound super high tech, but it’s pretty amazing in a mobile unit that I just drove through the downtown area,” said Medical Director of PMFHC Dr. Todd Wahrenberger.

The new mobile unit was made possible through grants from the McAuley Ministries, and the Catholic Health East Heritage Fund.

“If ten years from now this unit is worn out and we need to buy another that means that an awful lot of good has happened in this town,” said Wolfe. 

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014. The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science. Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.