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BC’s Mobile Medical Unit: More than just a physical space

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BC’s Mobile Medical Unit has travelled the entire province, lending its flexible and high-tech clinical space for many purposes.

The unit has been used as a sub-in for emergency departments and other areas while a hospital or clinic undergoes a renovation; as additional treatment space for mass-event participants who need care or as the home to specialized public outreach clinics. 

While the unit may provide the physical space and equipment required for these activities, the real asset of the program is the team. 

With five core members and six on-call/casual nurses, and six physician contractors, the unit’s mandate has expanded substantially since it became part of PHSA in 2011 to include training and clinical education, as well as specialized care roles to name a few. Each team member brings a unique skillset and training, from critical care nursing and emergency management to Canadian Forces experience. 

Recently, one of the MMU’s team members, registered nurse Landon James, was seconded to lend his expertise at the Squamish and Pemberton Music Festivals this summer. 

Recognizing his skills and expertise as a critical care transport nurse in his other role at Interior Health helping transport critical care patients, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) reached out to the MMU team member for help. 

Without Landon at the festival, one of VCH’s other team members would have needed to accompany the patients, potentially leaving the rest of the team short staffed at the local VCH facility. It’s a perfect example of how the MMU collaborates with other health authorities, in this case Vancouver Coastal Health where the festivals were held, to provide seamless, timely and appropriate patient care. 

Between the two festivals, Landon assisted with numerous nurse-escorted patient transports from local hospitals to larger centres. 

“A few years ago, the MMU team wasn’t receiving requests such as having a team member provide a specialized patient transport role. Now that our health authority partners are recognizing the breadth of our program and abilities, we’re seeing more and more innovative requests come through both for the team and the unit,” said Landon. 

“We look forward to continuing to push the boundaries and expand our service offering to ensure we’re meeting the ever-evolving needs of our colleagues and stakeholders across BC and importantly, the patients who rely on us. The flexibility that the MMU team brings allows health authorities to offer different short-term clinical services without a major investment in starting up a new program.”

A shared provincial resource, the MMU makes a planned deployment to each health authority every year, providing renovation support, clinical education, public outreach and emergency and disaster relief to name a few. 

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