New Mobile Medical Van to assist homeless in Seattle

(Seattle, WA) Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced that a new mobile medical clinic begins operations this month to help address the Homeless State of Emergency, offering better access to medical, mental health and chemical dependency services at various sites around Seattle.  The Mayor was joined by Patty Hayes, Director of Public Health-Seattle & King County at today’s service location at St. John United Lutheran Church in the Seattle’s Phinney neighborhood.

Dr. Alida Gertz remarks on the urgent need for medical care support and services for the homeless.

The new van – which resembles a giant RV with a splash of sunshine painted on the outside – complements an existing mobile medical van that operates in South and East King County.  It makes daily scheduled visits to food banks, tent cities, social service agencies and other locations, where clients can receive walk-in medical care.

“As we continue to address the city’s homelessness crisis, we know there is not one answer, but many as we try to help those who are most vulnerable,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This mobile medical van will enable us to deliver critical health care to those in need and serve as an entry point to long-term support services and permanent housing.”

“This mobile medical unit will connect more people to treatment for an illness or injury – an important first step toward helping them transition to safe, stable housing,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “By providing immediate assistance where people are today, we’re able to deliver the best results.”

“The most effective way to treat people is to meet them where they are, which is why I’m so excited to see the Mobile Medical Clinic deployed to help those in our unsheltered population,” said Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw.  “While someone is getting treated for a broken bone, toothache, or even diabetes, staff in the Mobile Medical Clinic can help connect patients with long term care options, shelter, and case management.  This is truly a one-stop-shop.”

Inside the mobile clinic, clients can get assistance from a physician, nurse, chemical dependency professional, and mental health case manager. In addition to providing services onsite, staff will arrange for additional treatment at a community provider, and when needed, escort the client on an initial visit.

The van makes scheduled visits to various meal programs and community sites around Seattle.  At each location, a partner agency helps inform and refer people about the care they can receive on the mobile medical clinic.

For many people living homeless, day-to-day life is organized around basic survival issues such as food, shelter, and personal safety that often take priority over managing their health. The overall goal of the mobile medical program is to address these competing priorities by traveling to locations where people experiencing homelessness can immediately access patient-centered care and case management services.

The annual operating cost for the van will be approximately $700,000.  This includes personnel, pharmaceuticals and supplies, operating and maintenance and administrative expenses. The City of Seattle has contributed $500,000 in State of Emergency funds towards the van’s annual operating costs with the remaining funding coming from patient generated revenue, (billing for covered services), and ongoing Federal funds.

The Seattle Human Services Department is one of the largest contributors to Seattle’s safety net. HSD provides $89 million in funding through 400 contracts to nearly 200 agencies supporting Seattle’s most vulnerable residents each year.  The department works closely with its community partners, including other public and nonprofit funders and service providers, to understand current and emerging human service needs, and to create and invest in a comprehensive and integrated regional human services system.

Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for more than two million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health — Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day. More at