The Barton County Health Department will now be able to take its COVID-19 show and immunizations on the road after the County Commission Monday morning OKed the purchase of a camper trailer that will serve as a mobile unit.
Such a trailer for community testing, mobile outreaches and emergency response has been a long-term goal of the county, County Administrator Phil Hathcock said. “With more demands on the Health Department staff to provide community COVID testing, administrative staff researched purchase options.”
They settled a used 2018 Forest River Vengeance to be purchased from Harper Camperland for $25,540. “This will provide a resource to both mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and invest in long-term economic recovery,” Hathcock said.
County Health Director Karen Winkelman and Hathcock have worked for several weeks on the possibility of having a mobile unit for doing community testing for the health department. “Since COVID-19 has started, they have had numerous requests to go to off-site locations and do vaccinations, testing, things of that nature,” he said.
“They have done this in the past, but with the Health Department open by appointment only the needs of the community seem to be calling for more infrastructure,” he said. They researched what would work as a mobile unit and found the used camping trailer.
“That seems to fit the bill and the setup inside would work very well for Karen,” he said. It has all vinyl flooring and the whole back end opens to accommodate handicapped clients with a ramp.
There is also a separate bedroom that could be used as a private consulting room, as well as a restroom.
“Obviously, if we were able to use COVID-19 funding in the future to reimburse ourselves, we would,” Hathcock said. “But, I believe this is something that will help the Health Department, not only in vaccine outreaches or COVID-19 outreaches.”
The department responds to natural disasters and provides tetanus shots to the workers, as well as at other times. “This would be a good addition for them and kind of broaden their horizons,” he said.
It can be stored in a building at the Barton County Landfill or at the Road and Bridge Department lot.
“We might have a real need for this, but when we’re looking at budgets that are so tight, it makes it difficult to prioritize something like this,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. “So the fact that we can maybe be reimbursed with COVID makes it all the more desirable for us to move forward with this.”