Mobile med unit ready to roll, Cowichan visit demonstrates

When the long-anticipated major earthquake hits B.C.,the province’s mobile medical clinic will be ready for action and go where needed.

When the long-anticipated major earthquake hits B.C., or in the event of other disasters, the province’s mobile medical clinic will be ready for action and go where needed.

The MMU, a 16-metre tractor trailer that is considered a hospital-on-wheels, visited the Cowichan District Hospital on Oct. 3 to provide clinical-education training to hospital staff.

Peter Hennecke, the unit’s clinical operations director, said while responding to disasters is an important part of the MMU’s role, it also regularly steps in as a back-up unit when hospitals are undergoing renovations or upgrades.

“We have enough room in the MMU for eight stretchers and the capabilities to provide critical and surgical care,” Hennecke said.

“The MMU started with the Olympics in 2010 and served as a critical-care unit at Whistler. In 2011, the unit became a provincial program that deals with cases of ‘clinical surge’ that come with natural disasters and situations where hospitals are undergoing renovations and repairs.”

The clinical capability of the MMU is flexible and can range from low acuity, such as primary-health care and outpatient clinics, to emergency-level care.

The MMU’s support trailer is stocked with up to 72-hours worth of medical supplies, food and other equipment.

Hennecke said that for prolonged missions, the MMU can be connected to a hospital’s power system, city water and waste systems.

But he said it also has its own power, limited oxygen and water and waste systems for self sufficiency when required.

“The educational role of the MMU is a huge component, and the nurses and physicians at the various hospitals we visit combine with our clinical trainers to increase their skill levels,” he said.

“We’re heading to the Cowichan Tribes to work with the members of its medical outreach program after the day at Cowichan District Hospital, and then head we’ll back to the Lower Mainland.”