Mobile health van on tour this month

Van provides food, health supplies and access to health services free of charge

With the goal of delivering health services to the outlying communities in Grays Harbor and Pacific counties, the Mobile Assistance Van (MAV), packed full of food as well as health supplies and information, will visit five different communities between this week and next.

The MAV will visit the North Beach Senior Center in Ocean Shores from 9 to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 14, and then, later that day, travel north to Copalis Beach, where it will be parked at the Copalis Beach Food Bank from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

The van will continue its December tour by visiting 10 Eagle Hill Road in Tokeland on Dec. 16 from 8 to 10 a.m.

Finally, mobile services will be in Westport Dec. 20 from noon to 2 p.m. at South Beach Christian Outreach and then in Humptulips at the Humptulips Food Bank Dec. 21 from noon to 3 p.m.

The December tour will be the van’s second round of stops throughout the Harbor since it launched in October as a collaboration between the Olympic Area Agency on Aging (O3A), the North Beach Senior Center and the Arc of Grays Harbor.

North Beach Senior Center Director Jeff Moyer said the young project has, at least so far, “exceeded the expectations.”

“It’s going very well,” Moyer said. “We’re looking to expand it a little more once we get it all dialed in.”

The van served over 300 people in November — double the expected amount, according to Michelle Fogus, contract specialist for O3A. Fogus said the goal of MAV is to “get help to those in outlying communities who may not be able to access services in the greater Aberdeen area due to mobility, transportation or other issues.”

Fogus said the van carries a number of health supplies: hand sanitizer, masks, alcohol wipes and rapid tests — as well as informational handouts — for COVID-19. General hygiene kits, laundry, dish soap and kids’ toothbrush kits are also available.

The van is also full of food, including shelf-stable items, frozen protein items and even produce. These food items often supplement what local food banks have to offer, Fogus said.

Besides the services it brings to communities with little access to regular health services, MAV also acts as a bridge to other health programs, referring people to state services and Medicare programs.

And MAV provides everything free of charge, backed by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through a grant with the Washington Department of Health.

Fogus said access to MAV’s services does not require identification, proof of income or citizenship.

Going forward, Fogus said the program is looking to “fine-tune” its services specific to each community, based on the lessons learned from initial visits. For example, the van provided bilingual services during its visit to Westport and Humptulips, as well as cold weather supplies for communities with unhoused populations.

Fogus and Moyer discovered the need for MAV was especially great in Westport — the van served roughly 140 people during its November visit, the most of any community, according to Fogus.

“We will probably hit a lot of these locations at least once a month, sometimes two, depending on reception and the guest count and the need as we discover it,” Moyer said.

The van will visit the Amanda Park Library on Jan. 3 from 2 to 5 p.m., and then several other communities in the following weeks. While no events are scheduled after January, updated schedules will be posted at