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Medicine on Wheels: how this new clinic is changing lives in black and brown communities

The 370 sq ft. vehicle is equipped with two separate exam rooms each with tables, top-notch medical equipment, testing instruments and more.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Dr. Raul Vasquez has been serving the underserved throughout Western New York for over 30 years. 

He says it's his, "passion for people and medicine" that drives him every day.

In 1996, he founded Urban Family Practice in the heart of communities that need access to medical care most - black and brown ones. As the president of GBUHAN, The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Health Network, his work to ensure all people get fair access to health care has not wavered.

On Thursday, Vasquez unveiled his brand new Mobile Medical Center. An "ER on Wheels" that he hopes will make it even more possible for black and brown communities to access the health care they not only need, but have a right to. 

The 370 sq ft. vehicle is equipped with two separate exam rooms, each with a table, top-notch medical equipment, testing instruments, a computer, sanitary supplies, a waiting area, bathroom, a heating system and more.

Since the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic, minorities have been struggling and dying at disproportionate rates. 

The University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy recently published these statistics:

"US minorities are dying at a younger age than white Americans. According to the analysis, just 3% of white people who have died of COVID-19 are under age 55, while 8% of Asians, 11% of Blacks, 18% of Latinos, and 24% of American Indians are under that age.

Experts say that the age disparity in COVID-19 deaths in part reflects unequal access to healthcare. But they also say younger minorities are being hit harder because they are more represented in low-wage jobs that increase their risk of getting infected."

In a week's time, this mobile clinic will be rolling through neighborhoods, parking in church lots and stopping by community centers to service as many people and turn over as many tests as possible. 

Vasquez and his team have ordered 13 machines, 3,000 COVID-19 tests, 2,000 influenza tests and 1,000 strep throat tests - and they plan to waste no time getting to work.

While no appointments are needed, Vasquez encourages people to visit UFP's website or call in to speak with a nurse for immediate assistance, from there next steps will be taken.

2 On Your Side is excited to join Vasquez and his team as they serve the community. Stay tuned, for much more on this story and how this innovative approach to medicine is making an indelible mark in our community.