PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The big orange bus, affectionately called “BOB”, is the mmobile health unit, which travels through Berkshire County and has become even more important during the pandemic.
This year, they’re excited to expand their fleet and advance their mission of serving communities across Berkshire County.
what you need to know
- Community Health Programs has a mobile health unit that operates throughout Berkshire County
- The Mobile Health Unit promotes influenza vaccines as well as COVID-19 vaccines and the bivalent booster vaccination for those who are eligible
- CHP plans to expand its fleet this year to complement its mobile services
- Appointments for the CHP mobile health unit are strongly recommended
“It’s been in the works for a while that we can expand and get more mobile health units,” said Hiram Paniagua, a medical assistant who drives the bus.
Paniagua said Community Health Programs will update a second bus like “BOB” to offer more care. They are also adding a vehicle to deliver groceries to families in need.
“We’re also expanding, we’re getting a dental unit,” Paniagua said. “And then we get a refrigeration unit so we can store groceries there and also deliver groceries.”
On Monday, the mobile health unit parked at a shopping center in Pittsfield and made another stop at The Roasted Garlic restaurant to offer vaccinations against COVID-19 and flu. It can also accommodate appointments for primary care and emergency care.
Nurse Kathleen Floyd said convenience is a priority for her team.
“You know, it’s amazing that a lot of people still don’t have access to basic services and don’t have time to make an appointment,” Floyd said. “So we try to make it convenient and accessible. ”
Betty Kasuba heard about the Big Orange Bus from her daughter and opted to get her updated COVID Bivalent booster instead of going to a doctor’s office.
“I mean, it’s that simple,” Kasuba said. “I was surprised. It was very beautiful. I have an appointment tomorrow that I have to cancel.”
Floyd said the addition of dental care and meal deliveries is a result of the mobile health unit recognizing and meeting the needs of the Berkshires.
“We’re trying to find all the services that people can’t get right now and be able to provide those,” Floyd said.
The team says the additional services will arrive in the coming months. The Mobile Health Unit accepts walk-ins but strongly recommends making appointments. Dates can be found here.