DANVILLE — Geisinger displayed its new solar-powered Mobile Health Services bus outside the emergency department Wednesday afternoon.
The 41-foot-long bus is only the second one of its kind in the country. The first is at Clemson University in South Carolina, said Geisinger Emergency Management Director Stephanie Gryboski.
"This is the first time for a bus like this in this climate," she said.
She said the public will get to see the staff in the bus providing first aid to patients during the Bloomsburg Fair. "The bus will be making its big debut during the fair," she said of the white Freightliner vehicle. Geisinger officials didn't disclose the cost of the vehicle.
The bus can be used to expand care and services for patients who can't make it to the large facilities and clinics, she said.
It can be used in rural areas where there are no utilities such as hook-ups for water and electricity, she said.
"The onboard solar power system consists of 10 solar panels and lithium ion batteries able to sustain clinic operations almost indefinitely," said Al Neuner, vice president of facility operations. "Most mobile clinics rely on an onboard generator to power their clinics that is noisy and distracting. The solar system is not only environmentally friendly, but has no sound, creating an environment much more conducive for patient care."
The bus arrived last week and has been a year in the making with the manufacturer, she said.
Ten solar panels are constantly charging on the bus roof. They charge six lithium ion batteries that power the bus and utilities on the bus, she said. There is also a generator as a back-up.
The front of the vehicle houses three rotating exam chairs for patients. In the back is a full-size patient clinic. "We will be able to see four patients at a time," she said.
She said Geisinger officials will determine what the best use for the vehicle will be whether for wellness screening, clinics or during emergencies.
The type of staff will be determined according to the use of the vehicle. The minimum would be a nurse and an advanced provider such as a doctor, a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant, she said.
The vehicle has an outside awning and a monitor below it that can display instructions for patients or a patient waiting list.
The bus, which is wired to access Geisinger's electronic records system, also has a refrigerator, a microwave and a full bath.
It will be visiting other Geisinger sites so employees in Bloomsburg, Shamokin, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and Lewistown can see the bus, said hospital Spokesman Joseph Stender III.