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Mobile clinic vehicle staffed by JABSOM students targeted again by vandals

Published: Sep. 4, 2021 at 5:23 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 4, 2021 at 5:26 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Faculty at UH’s John A. Burns School of Medicine made an upsetting discovery Saturday morning.

They found vandals struck an important RV used to bring medical care to Oahu’s under-served communities. The vehicle is used for the school’s Hawaii H.O.M.E. project, which stands for Homeless Outreach & Medical Education.

Dozens of people, often in the houseless community, are served on a weekly basis.

“We function sort of as a cross between an urgent care and primary care clinic. So you can see us for anything from treating your diabetes and high blood pressure to getting routine vaccinations like your flu shot or tetanus shot,” Dr. Teresa Schiff-Elfalan, Hawaii H.O.M.E Project medical director, said.

Saturday morning, JABSOM faculty members found one side of the van completely covered in graffiti. The van’s brake lights were also smashed as it sat parked near the medical school along Keawe Street in Kakaako.

But the service isn’t just for homeless — the staff helps whoever comes to them for care. In light of the pandemic, it was also used for COVID testing and vaccine distribution.

This is the third time this year it was targeted, including a catalytic converter theft back in February.

It’s acts like these that run up the repair bills for the program, which is funded by grants and grassroots fundraising.

“It makes it really difficult for us to do what we need to do to take care of people who may otherwise have no access to services,” Schiff-Elfalan added.

The program has a similar backup vehicle in their fleet which they are using to continue their work. But still, faculty members say things like this only hurts the community.

“It’s devastating and very disappointing. We’re trying to so hard to help the community and for individuals to commit this senseless act is just inexcusable,” Schiff-Elfalan said. “Let’s do our part to help one another instead of making things even more challenging than they already area.

The van is integrated into curriculum for some JABSOM students. To learn more about their efforts or to donate to the program, click here. A GoFundMe account to cover the cost of repairs has been set up here.

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