Improving the Quality of Life in Southern Puerto Rico
Reaching an Underserved Population with LDV-built Medical Vehicles
📸: Med Centro Healthcare System
The island of Puerto Rico lies 50 miles east of the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Sea and is known for its beautiful coastal views and temperate climate. One of the many things that draw tourists to the island is its more than 500 years of rich history. Historic architecture, amazing cuisine and a bustling island culture are all reasons to visit Puerto Rico
With a population of roughly 2.8 million people, a need to provide medical care to patients in underserved areas has grown.
Enter Med Centro.
Med Centro is a primary healthcare organization founded in 1971 in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Today, they employ 450 employees, mostly health professionals in an array of healthcare disciplines in the southern region of the island.
“At Med Centro we feel a great commitment to the healthcare endeavor and continuously we are innovating to expand our scope of services and access to them. As a community-based institution, we continually reinvest our resources to develop cutting-edge projects that guarantee the availability of the best possible medical treatment to improve the quality of life of the people served in southern Puerto Rico,” said Allan Cintrón, Executive Director of Med Centro.
Med Centro’s vision, “Forever new frontiers” suits their mission to reach more patients through the use of mobile medical vehicles.
“In addition to treating patients in our physical facilities, we go to places where there are underserved populations that have limited or no access to health services,” said Cintrón. “We analyzed the need in Coamo and Salinas (Puerto Rico) in the southern portion of the island and decided to acquire a new medical vehicle to reach them even during natural disasters.”
This latest vehicle enhances Med Centro’s growing fleet of medical outreach vehicles. The LDV-built mobile medical vehicle is built on a LDV Custom Coach chassis and features rooftop solar panels that are utilized for running the air conditioner units, interior lighting and other equipment. The vehicle is also equipped with a wheelchair lift for accessibility. Inside, there is a triage area, two patient rooms and a waiting area that doubles as a conference room. The vehicle is fully equipped with medical equipment to make it self-sustaining in the field.
Med Centro’s LDV-built mobile medical vehicle was delivered during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. A few days after its arrival, they deployed the vehicle to several communities around the southern part of the island near the city of Coamo. The vehicle proved to be a crucial aid in the vaccination of the population. By June 2021, the city of Coamo had reached 70% level of vaccination, among the first on the island of 78 municipalities.
“Med Centro became one of the first health institutions in southern Puerto Rico that received vaccines to face COVID-19. This has helped us to maximize every dose in order to achieve the control of the pandemic outbreak among the population. Following HRSA and CDC guides, we are currently committed with the vaccination of the general population. The vehicle has been crucial because every day we deploy our staff and they reach more citizens in their respective communities,” said Cintrón.
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, the strongest hurricane to hit the island in more than 80 years. This Category 4 hurricane pummeled the island with sustained 155-mph winds, causing unprecedented damage and wiping out power and vital services. In addition, Maria brought a giant storm surge and flooding that destroyed thousand of homes, roads and bridges.1
But Puerto Rico and its citizens are fighters. The acquisition of this latest mobile medical vehicle will allow Med Centro to be better prepared to reach people where needed in the event of a natural disaster similar to Maria in the future.
“In early June at the start of the hurricane season, Med Centro conducted a preparation exercise with its fleet of vehicles that included this brand new LDV custom medical vehicle. About 15 units with their drivers traveled along Highway #52 from Ponce to Salinas, which are part of the towns in the southern region of the island where Med Centro provides primary health services. The exercise served to refine the institution’s response and coordination plans to address health services after catastrophic events,” said Cintrón.
Med Centro’s commitment to improving the quality of life for the residents on the island of Puerto Rico is a long term process. The organization was focused on finding a custom vehicle partner, not just a builder when it came to these trucks.
“Med Centro came to us with specific requests for their custom vehicles. They are most impressed by the quality of our engineering and design. We have been able to accommodate all of their needs and build vehicles that will have a tremendous positive impact for the community. They wanted a partner that would be there for them before, during and after delivery of the vehicles. We are proud of that relationship,” said Ed Cook, Vice President of International Sales at LDV.
The first LDV-built mobile medical vehicle was delivered to Med Centro in January of 2021 with more projects underway. More information about this vehicle and future vehicles can be found on our website, www.LDVusa.com.
Want to see more of Med Centro’s incredible medical vehicle? We produced a walk through video of their vehicle to highlight all of the unique features: