LIHU‘E — With over $300,000 in funds derived from a Hawai‘i Community Foundation fund seeded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, the county will be getting three mobile labs capable of expanding the county’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing programs.
The Kaua‘i Health Fund, a field of interest fund supported by Chan Zuckerberg Kaua‘i Community Fund of HCF, approved a $365,193.40 grant from HCF for three 2020 Ford commercial cargo vehicles that will be outfitted with medical-grade facilities, including running water, ventilation and refrigeration capabilities.
“The mobile labs’ original intent was to provide communities and specific populations with on-site services island-wide as part of the incident management response for the COVID-19 emergency,” County Managing Director Michael Dahilig said in an email this week. “This resource was intended to be deployed for multiple programs starting with rapid testing (antigen and/or rapid PCR) to eventually administering vaccinations.”
Mobile units, Dahilig explained during Wednesday’s Kaua‘i County Council briefing on the grant, will allow the county to provide care to hard-to-reach areas without spending additional resources on transportation back and forth.
“We have had outbreaks in places like Wainiha and Kekaha, and having the ability to go into the community with the ease of laboratory access will allow us to provide information and response quicker, more accurately, and in the manner that allows us to not waste a lot of time in terms of having to shuttle things back and forth to the fixed laboratory facilities in Lihu‘e,” Dahilig said.
“These mobile labs will be used to provide on-site vaccinations to hard-to-reach populations such as houseless and home-bound elderly residents,” Dahilig said. “Vaccinations will presently take a higher priority for these mobile labs since the vaccination program is currently in full swing.”
The Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency hopes to get the program up and running in the next couple of weeks once the vehicles, from Hawai‘i Specialty Vehicles, are shipped.
The in-kind gift, which the council unanimously approved to the county to receive on Wednesday, is already being looked at for long-term use. The county plans to offer the mobile labs to island-wide partners or utilize in times of need.
“After the pandemic, social services will continue to be in high demand due to the hardships caused by the pandemic,” Dahilig said. “These mobile labs will be available for charitable and non-profit agencies that are servicing individuals and populations for various programs that partner with the various county’s agencies and departments.”