Seattle is bringing health care to homeless people by way of a medical van.
The van is actually a 39-foot RV that’s been customized into a compact medical office. It has an exam room, and a station for patients to check in and talk with the nurse.
But it’s more than a walk-in clinic. It’s a place to connect people with services they need, including mental health.
“We see these unmet needs that we can’t do anything about,” said Lee Harper, director of the Phinney Neighborhood Association.
The medical van is in the parking lot of St. John Lutheran Church, where the community has been providing hot meals for more than 30 years.
“This is going to be fantastic for us to be able to refer people,” she said, “not somewhere downtown, not to give them a piece of paper, but say hey, walk outside and get some services today, right now.”
The goal is to provide services when people need them, before issues turn into a crisis. The clinic on wheels will make scheduled visits around Seattle.
It’s an expansion of the Mobile Medical program that started in 2008 and serves South King County.
Funding to buy the van came from federal grants. Operating the clinic is a joint effort of the city and King County.
The mobile clinic's schedule is posted on King County's website.