Leanne McIntee and the team at KDC Health had wanted to do something to help people access medical and mental health services before the pandemic hit, and had to quickly adapt their plans to meet the new reality.
The idea for the MOUHSS van came well before the pandemic. McIntee met with a Mirror reporter just days before the declaration of the global pandemic to discuss the then-new service, and a launch event had to be postponed because of increasing restrictions coming into place at the time.
However, the pandemic may have been beneficial to the MOUHSS in a roundabout way.
“In a funny little way (the pandemic) has actually helped us a bit. We received some funding for doctors to help offer supports to folks, whereas before we were trying to figure out how we would be able to fund our doctors because it’s such an expensive part of our funding,” McIntee said. “We wouldn’t have a doctor five days a week, but now we’ve got funding that came through the Divisions of Family Practice, through the government for doctors to offer supports for folks and they are using the MOUHSS as their platform to offer services.”
McIntee is the Mobile Outreach Coordinator for KDC Health. She had been trying to increase access to healthcare and services to people in the community before the pandemic came into swing, and apart from delaying their start for a few weeks they were able to keep moving forward with the MOUHSS van. Now it is a successful community programming initiative that has helped many people with anything from small injuries to mental health issues.
“It offered service to folks when they didn’t feel safe going in to an actual building. They could come in their vehicle and we could talk to them when they were in their vehicle,” she said. “Or they could come and we could talk to them outside in a socially-distant way. It actually came at the perfect time. It all married itself well together.”
While the MOUHSS is one of the more visible parts of what McIntee does — it’s hard to miss the large image-covered RV driving around town — she has also launched a few other initiatives with the bus as a base. One of those is a clean-up program called Get the Point, where volunteers clean up areas in downtown of needles and other garbage.
“When people see folks outside cleaning up, and they say ‘hey good job, thank you so much,’ that’s what motivates people and keeps our programs running,” she said. “That’s super important… when someone says thank you and you feel proud of something you’ve done I think it’s what makes the difference.”
McIntee, though instrumental in getting everything up and running, emphasized the entire team behind the service, simply saying of her own hard work that “The doors just opened and here I am. It just worked.”
Rather, she thanked the team at KDC Health who helped with the MOUHSS, the volunteers and the community.