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Nation's First Eco-Friendly Mobile Health Van Launched by New Jersey Non-Profit Health Center
Date:7/1/2009

DOVER, N.J., July 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Zufall Health Center, a federally qualified health center operating in northwestern New Jersey, today launched the nation's first eco-friendly mobile medical unit.

The Highlands Health Van will bring urgently needed, affordable health care to low-income, mostly uninsured residents of Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex counties. State and local officials commemorated the launch at a ribbon cutting ceremony in Flemington.

Designed to provide primary and preventive medical services to adults and children, the 37-foot van has been customized to be the "greenest," healthiest and most efficient vehicle of its kind.

"Our health van gives us the ability to serve a rural population -- particularly those laboring in local agriculture -- whose income, long work hours and lack of transportation have made quality health care unattainable," said Eva Turbiner, president and chief executive officer of Zufall Health Center. "By taking our services on the road, we felt a tremendous responsibility to provide a mobile treatment setting that was healthy for patients and our staff while minimizing any adverse environmental impacts."

Highlands Health Van's "green" mission was achieved by incorporating features that address energy efficiency, indoor health, water conservation and sustainability. Powered by a biodiesel engine, the van was built using many recyclable and/or naturally grown materials, a first for a community health van. Highlights include:

  • 10 rooftop solar panels to produce and store electricity
  • Cabinetry, paints, wall-and-floor coverings to have low-to-no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), natural microbial resistance and/or Forestry Stewardship Council certification
  • Foot-controlled faucets to minimize water consumption
  • Greywater recycling systems to maximize water utilization
  • Naturally grown materials that are plentiful, renewable, or recycled
  • Building supplies and components responsibly manufactured

According to the van's builder, Universal Specialty Vehicles of Perris, Cal., the "green" factor was considered in the selection of every component.

"We made a 'green' decision wherever we could, as long as the product was proven to hold up over time and could withstand the rigors of the road," explained Andy Mills, the company's president.

At a cost approaching $300,000, the van was funded by a grant from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. Additional funding to help support its first two years of operation was provided by primary sponsor Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., a New Jersey-based global pharmaceutical company.

"Governor Corzine and I are proud that our state is supporting this health and environmental initiative," said Heather Howard, commissioner of health and senior services, New Jersey. "For many years, Zufall Health Center has been meeting the health care needs of the under-served. This van represents an exciting, creative and valuable way for the center to expand its reach."

"This van will provide thousands of people with critical healthcare services," said Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. chief executive officer Joseph Pieroni. "It's not enough to just tell people to 'get healthy,' we need to help ensure that they have access to the tools, resources and information to help them make appropriate behavior changes that can help them prevent and manage many of the chronic illnesses that are affecting millions of Americans each year, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes."

Resembling a standard doctor's office, the Highlands Health Van will house two examination rooms and an intake/waiting area. Staffed by a nurse practitioner, a medical assistant, and a patient representative, it will operate six days a week, making regularly scheduled stops in each county. It is expected to treat nearly 5,000 patients with more than 7,000 visits in its first two years. Patients will receive care regardless of their ability to pay.

Both Mills and Turbiner believe this pioneering vehicle will be a model for the future.

"With a project like this, you are investing in more than the long-term wellness of patients and staff," Turbiner noted. "It's making our whole community a 'greener,' healthier place."

About

Zufall Health Center, headquartered in Dover, New Jersey, is a state-licensed, not-for-profit, private community health center providing low-cost medical treatment to the underserved. Founded nearly 20 years ago as a volunteer clinic, it now operates three facilities offering primary health, dental, and mental health services to communities in Morris, Sussex, Hunterdon, and Warren counties. For more information, visit www.zufallhealth.org.

Daiichi Sankyo Inc., headquartered in Parsippany, New Jersey, is the U.S. subsidiary of Tokyo-based Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd., which is a global pharmaceutical innovator. For more information, visit www.dsi.com.


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SOURCE Zufall Health Center
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