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New mobile medical van hits the road to help Seattle’s homeless

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SEATTLE -- A new step forward to help the homeless in Seattle is a mobile medical clinic on wheels.

On Wednesday,  the Public Health - Seattle & King County’s mobile medical van was unveiled at St. John’s United Lutheran Church in north Seattle.

The city said that church is one of eight places where the mobile medical van will start showing up.

“It’s just a wonderful thing to have,” said one man who went by the name of John and has been living on the streets for years.

He didn’t want us to show his face but wanted to share with us why he used the mobile medical van for the first time Wednesday.

“I always keep Ibuprofen on me and today didn’t have any. They gave this large portion and didn’t charge me a darn nickel. I think it’s a little too good to be true,” proclaimed John.

The Public Health - Seattle & King County mobile medical van is designed to provide a lot help to those in need.

“This is another day where we in Seattle make a step forward in addressing the national epidemic of homelessness,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said.

Murray toured the 39-foot vehicle on Wednesday. Inside the mini clinic will be a staff that includes a full-time physician, registered nurse, social worker and program manager.

The clinic will help people with things like colds, broken bones and toothaches.

It’ll also provide mental health services and services to get people off the street

“It’ll connect people with brick and mortar homes and deal with issues of chronic disease including the issue of addiction and dispense medication and deal with issues of hygiene,” added Murray.

Wednesday was only the third day the RV had been in use in the city of Seattle.

The mobile medical van will show up at tent cities, food banks and other locations that provide services to the homeless.

“We show up where people are coming to eat. We want to make it as easy as possible for people just be able to walk up and say this is what I need,” said John Gilvar, a program manager for Public Health - Seattle & King County.

However, it’s up to the people who need the help to take the first step.

“Once folks find out that exists, I believe I know folks who probably are going to still need coaxing to take advantage of it,” said John, as he left the mobile medical van.

Federal funding provided nearly $350.000 to buy the RV.

The city of Seattle will provide about $500,000  a year to operate the van.

It’s the second one of its kind; the first has been running in South King County since 2008.