Health clinic on wheels filling need for COVID-19, STI testing in northern Sask.
The Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) is hoping to fill a need in northern Saskatchewan with a health clinic on wheels.
The PAGC plans to use a renovated van at pop-up clinics for COVID-19 vaccines and testing. The long-term goal is to slow the spread of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), such as syphilis, HIV and Hepatitis C.
“What started it was actually the increase in syphilis in the province, and we wanted to have an easier way for people in our communities to receive information and testing,” said Shirley Woods, PAGC director of health and social development.
The van, called Wellness on Wheels, features artwork from members of PAGC communities. With the eye-catching visuals, Woods said she hopes the van will help people feel more comfortable learning about STIs and getting tested for them.
“Access to care can be challenging for many people, even if they don’t have the isolation factor,” Woods said, referring to Indigenous communities.
“To bring it to them will just mean that more people will be able to be tested,” she added. “A lot of times you don’t have a lot of symptoms, you wouldn’t know.”
Paved to Pines, a Prince Albert van and school bus conversion company, flipped the van into a mobile health unit.
Steven Glass said he and his business partner, Mitchell Rosko, have long wanted to contribute to better access to health care.
“We had seen, probably early last year, some of the budget cuts to safe injection sites around Saskatoon and that’s kind of what got us thinking about the need for these mobile health units,” Glass said.
He said the van, an electric vehicle, has multiple options for charging – ideal for when health care workers have to hit the road and stay for more than one day.
“These units are pretty intense. As much as it’s serving those health needs, that’s more just the storage and functionality of it. On the back end, this is a four-season, completely off-grid unit.”
The front of the van contains a staff space with a curtain. The rear has an exam table, a fridge for samples, a sink and storage.
Glass and Rosko appeared on CBC’s Dragon’s Den last year.
Aside from creating custom electric vehicles for camping and travelling, Glass said the pair hopes to show how the vehicles can contribute to more than recreation.