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Region looking at merits of mobile health unit

Costs estimated between $150k and $300k and could provide a variety of services

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

The implementation of a mobile health unit in Durham Region could cost between $150,000 and $300,000.

Last year, regional council directed health department staff to investigate the possible costs of a mobile health unit.

At the Feb. 14 meeting, regional commissioner of health Dr. Robert Kyle advised costs would depend on the scope of services provided.

Costs tied to the mobile health unit would include staffing, equipment, insurance and vehicle maintenance.

Oshawa Councillor Amy McQuaid-England has suggested a decommissioned ambulance from Paramedic Services would be an appropriate vehicle for a mobile health unit.

Currently, York, Peel and Simcoe Regions, the cities of Toronto, Hamilton, Thunder Bay and Elgin County all operate mobile health units.

According to a report from Kyle, potential services could include medical triage for priority populations, crisis intervention, sexual and mental health treatment and needle exchange programs.

Kyle recommends that if the region moves forward with such a program, council should seek a “lead agency” to assist with funding.

Oshawa Councillor Dan Carter said he believes the region must begin these conversations sooner than later.

“We need to speak with outside agencies,” Carter said. “I believe we have some great agencies that would be able to support us to deliver a mobile health unit.”

He specifically pointed to the support that the Rotary Club of Toronto provides to a mobile health unit as an example.

Carter wants more information for council to consider on the issue.

“I believe this initiative could be a benefit and also an example of the region and local municipalities doing more to help less fortunate individuals.”

Regional council directed health department staff to bring another report on the mobile health unit back at a future meeting.