Upstate News

February 10, 1999
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Gifford Foundation Grant Brings Traveling Health Van to Central New York

A 36-foot traveling children’s health care center will soon hit the streets of Central New York.

The Rosamond Gifford Charitable Corporation has awarded a $170,000 grant to the Health Science Center Foundation for the purchase of a health van by the Children’s Health Place. Delivery of the van is expected in late February.

“We believe this grant will have a great impact on the well-being of our community and especially the health of our children,” said Dean Lesinski, executive director of the Gifford Foundation. “We are proud to support such a worthwhile endeavor.”

The van, which contains two exam rooms, a dental area and an immunization room along with a nurses station, will enable medical staff to provide a full range of pediatric services for patients from newborn to 18 years of age, including medications and immunizations at no charge.

“The van represents a major step in ensuring that all children in our community receive quality health care,” said pediatrician Roger E. Spitzer, director of the Children’s Health Place and professor emeritus at the State University of New York Health Science Center.

Routes for the health van are still being established, but most stops will be in areas that show higher than average infant mortality rates, according to Onondaga County Department of Health statistics. Those areas include the south, north and west sides of Syracuse. Hours of operation for the health van are also still under consideration. However, Dr. Spitzer said it’s likely the van will be open for business some evenings and on the weekend.

“The van will enable us to bring health care to those residents who find it difficult to travel to a physician’s office,” Dr. Spitzer said. “Now, there will be much greater access to health care in our city.”

Spitzer noted that the van will be especially useful in ensuring that children receive their required vaccinations and well check-ups. The van also will be a pharmacy of sorts, dispensing prescription drugs to patients.

“It doesn’t make sense to bring health care to our residents and not also have the prescribed medications they need to get better,” he said.

The health van will be staffed by volunteer physicians and nurses from the Children’s Health Place, which is located at 203 Westmoreland Ave., in Syracuse. Children’s Health Place provides a full range of pediatric services, medications and immunizations for free. Currently more than 800 patients receive medical care at the Children’s Health Place.

The van, which measures 36 feet long, 10 feet wide and 11 feet high, is being manufactured by Monarch Specialized Motor Coach Corp., of Albion, Ind. Some van highlights include:

  • 75 gallon capacity fuel tank
  • 257 inch wheelbase
  • gross vehicle weight rating of 22,500 pounds
  • on-board fresh water capacity of 40 gallons
  • one bathroom
  • two televisions
  • five computer ports

“Without the generous grant from the Gifford Foundation and the help of the Health Science Center Foundation in securing the grant, this van would not be a reality,” Dr. Spitzer said.

Donald Denton, chairman of the Health Science Center Foundation Board, said, “To be involved in a project that has such an enormous potential to benefit the lives of our neighbors gives the Health Science Center Foundation great satisfaction.”

The Syracuse health van is believed to be the only one of its kind in the state outside of New York City.

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