Walk-in clinic on wheels: Pasco brings COVID-19 vaccine straight to neighborhoods

By Laura Moody

Published 1 day ago

Pasco County

FOX 13 News

Pasco launches COVID-19 vaccine mobile unit

Laura Moody reports

BAYONET POINT, Fla. - In a tiny apartment complex off Highway 54, a big bus pulled right up front -- and people in Pasco Terrace couldn't have been more relieved.

Donna Latvus is 81. She just got her second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. But today is not just about her. 

 

"Thank God I got it. I have two grandchildren at school and I want to make sure I have it," she said smiling.

In those first few hours, this Pasco Mobile Medical Unit saw a steady stream of residents seeking the vaccine.

In public housing neighborhoods like this, it's not about whether the vaccine is available, it's about whether it's accessible. Board Chair of the Housing Authority David Lambert says it's heartbreaking sometimes. 

"A lot of our seniors are homebound," he explained, "They wouldn't have the opportunity to receive the vaccine to get life back to normal otherwise. This is a wonderful way to do that we can park and get folks in and out and get them vaccinated."

This is a walk-in on wheels. No emergency services, but they do everything else -- at no cost. There's a full-time staff of three.  They use volunteers for the rest.

For years, they've used it for homeless and uninsured adults and children. Once the pandemic hit, Bob Dillinger deployed it to the most remote areas of Pasco.

"If you don't have a cell phone or you don't know how to work the computer or you don't have a car, this is what you need," he said.

The longtime public defender retired at the height of COVID, but continues with the mission to provide healthcare like this. He says he’ll never stop. It might seem strange for a defender of the Sixth Judicial Circuit. Not to him. 

"Nobody else was doing it," he said.

And there's more to come. Soon, they'll be able to double their efforts, Dillinger explained. 

"We've got another one on the way with C.A.R.E.S money. It will be here in June," he told FOX 13.  

Together, with Lambert and the Housing Authority and the Pasco Health Department, they know exactly where they need to go to get to the most needy.

For Gerry Serincioni, it's a godsend. He's worried. 
"What I'm seeing about the lungs, damage to the lungs," he said, trailing off. 

Now that he's had his second shot, he's resting a little easier. 

"Having the vaccine does give you a feeling of I have a shield, I have a shield," Serincioni said, "However, I will still wear a mask. I will still be cautious."

"We go where the need is," Lambert explained, "We're already planning and we're going to be on the east side of the county next month in our senior communities over there."

Dade Oaks and Lacoochee are some of the areas where it's hard to get to, but people are just as deserving as anyone else. 

Our motto was always 'We are the Hope,'" Dillinger said, "and we want to give people hope."

Additional information on the Pasco Public Defender Mobile Medical Unit can be found here