Ford Donates Transit Connect for University of Kansas WellCar Program to Deliver Medical Care in Rural Areas
DEARBORN, MI--June 16, 2014: University of Kansas chose Ford Transit Connect as a medical transport vehicle for its smart size, great EPA-estimated rating of as much as 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway and ability to be tailored to meet unique caregiving needs Ford donated the vehicle to enable the university to deliver medical care that normally requires a visit to a medical center or doctor’s office The WellCar Ford Transit Connect van will be a rolling medical workstation that can provide testing, diagnosis and treatment, including prescribed medications, to non-ambulatory patients in rural areas
Ford Motor Company has donated a Transit Connect to the University of Kansas for one year to be the school’s first WellCar that will bring medical care to the doors of rural patients.
The need for WellCar service is acute. People in rural areas may travel for hours to seek a doctor or health care facility. For those who are not ambulatory and depend on others, travel adds anxiety to their illness. The WellCar Transit Connect could lower the incidence of “bounce back” patients, who return to the hospital due to complications from an earlier procedure.
“We are pleased to work with the University of Kansas,” said Minyang Jiang, Ford brand manager for Transit Connect, Transit and E-Series. “Transit Connect is a proven compact van that offers a unique combination of efficiency, cargo capacity and maneuverability, making it a great fit for the WellCar program.”
The WellCar Transit Connect will serve as a medical office on wheels, allowing a nurse practitioner to travel to as many as six patients a day, carry necessary medical equipment and communicate information wirelessly for treatment.
Transit Connect has the ideal features the school was looking for in a vehicle.
“Unlike current medical vehicles, whose capabilities are generally dedicated to simple tasks such as immunizations and health awareness programs, the WellCar model will enable nurse practitioners to provide a broad array of comprehensive, prevention-based patient care services,” said Gregory Thomas, design professor and director, University of Kansas Center for Design Research, which is part of the KU School of Architecture, Design & Planning. “That is how this concept goes so much further for patient care, and is what makes it unique.”
Transit Connect can be ordered without windows in the cargo area, which can enhance security. The availability of different wheelbases means more space and options for placement of equipment, and its smaller size – relative to larger cargo vans – makes Transit Connect more discreet when parked at a patient’s residence, which can enhance patient privacy.
Transit Connect has a best-in-class 30 mpg EPA-estimated highway mpg fuel economy rating*, making it ideal for traveling long distances between treating patients.
A functional prototype vehicle, which will serve as a proof of concept and research tool to develop the WellCar program, is projected to be on the road early in 2015.
The WellCar Transit Connect will be equipped with several medical devices. The van will be set up to transfer medical data securely through its own Wi-Fi hotspot to a medical center for immediate evaluation. A nurse practitioner can then administer treatment, including prescribed medications, if needed.
Students in the university’s advanced industrial design and engineering studio will create the specifications for the installation of medical equipment, then integrate the equipment and connectivity into the WellCar Transit Connect. Upfitting will be completed by Kranz Truck Equipment in Kansas City, Mo.
“This is a great opportunity for students to work on a real-world project,” said Thomas. “They will conceptualize it, plan it and then figure out how to incorporate and design technologies into the WellCar.”
The University of Kansas intends to deploy as many as four WellCar Transit Connect vans to serve western Kansas. The school has received inquiries about extending the program to Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas as well.
*Class is Small Cargo Vans. EPA-estimated rating of 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway/25 mpg combined for Transit Connect van with the available 1.6L EcoBoostŪ engine. Actual mileage will vary.