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Mobile medical unit rolls into second year

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Published:   |   Updated: April 18, 2013 at 12:05 PM

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TRINITY -

For about a year, Pasco County has been taking health care to the streets with a medical office on wheels to tend to the homeless and residents with little or no insurance.

Rededication of the Mobile Medical Care Unit will take place 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 22, at the Medical Center of Trinity, 9330 S.R. 54. The program will begin at 11:45 a.m. Organizers ask people to bring donations of socks and shoes for clients.

Commissioner Pat Mulieri and the county’s homeless advisory board helped set up the mobile medical unit. Since full-time operations in August, the van now makes more than a dozen stops each month throughout the county. The program has aided about 1,200 medical clients and given 1,000 flu immunizations from August through February.

Mulieri spoke to more than 100 attendees at the mobile medical unit’s unveiling in March 2012.

Mulieri had gained inspiration after meeting Jim Withers, often called the father of street medicine. Withers developed Operation Safety Net in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The website for the mobile unit quotes Withers, who said: “The essence of health care is going to where people are, either physically, spiritually or emotionally. When they are shown that they matter, when that really sinks in, hope grows and amazing things happen.”

Bob Dillinger, the public defender for the Pinellas-Pasco Sixth Judicial Circuit, supervises the unit under his office. This provides immunity for all volunteers.

Dillinger, with the assistance of state senators and representatives, obtained funds in his homeless outreach program to hire two staffers: a nurse practitioner and an emergency medical technician who drives the van. Volunteer nurses assist them.

EMT James Paar came on board in June, performing paramedic functions such as taking clients’ blood pressure. Paar began helping homeless individuals residing in the woods transition to a home, and provided them with bicycles for transportation. County officials describe Paar as a “man with a mission” with “a heart as big as he is.”

An advanced registered nurse practitioner, Lori Beucler is a skilled professional. She has worked in many facilities, including the Good Samaritan clinic in New Port Richey. She handles myriad medical matters.

The mobile unit can provide treatment for a brief illness, such as strep throat and ear infections. The MMU team also can handle ongoing care for long-term illnesses, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Flu immunizations also are available. The staff can refer people to other agencies for dental, substance abuse, mental health and other services.

A long list of local hospitals and other partners donate to the cause as Pasco’s Shining Stars.

For more information, call (727) 847-8100 or send an email to Lucille Paterno at lpaterno@pasco countyfl.net. Or visit the website of the mobile unit at www.pascomobile health.org.

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