Mobile Treatment Centers Introduced In 2 New York Counties

By Beth Leipholtz 01/25/18

The two mobile treatment vehicles will be staffed with a team of nurses, counselors and peer advocates.

mobile treatment van
The mobile treatment RVs were created to act as treatment centers for individuals who may be addicted to opioids, both prescription and illegal.

When it comes to opioid overdoses and deaths, officials in certain New York counties are taking matters into their own hands by deploying mobile units for addiction treatment. 

According to the Buffalo News, two mobile units were introduced on Tuesday, Jan. 23. The vehicles, which are unmarked, will be staffed with a team of nurses, counselors and peer advocates who will work to increase access to counseling and treatment for substance use disorder. 

The two RV units are run by BestSelf Behavioral Health and will act as mobile treatment centers for individuals who may be addicted to opioids. The vehicles will travel to both Erie and Niagara counties—both counties that are highly affected by the opioid crisis.

Buffalo News states that in 2012, Erie County recorded 103 opioid-related deaths. In 2016, that number rose to 301; in 2017, the county recorded at least 316 opioid-related deaths.  

“One of the solutions is to take professional, experienced individuals to where the problem is occurring,” said New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, according to WIVB. “There are so many rural areas where it’s impossible for these small counties to have the resources, have facilities. It’s tough for people to get time off work.”

From the outside, the units look like normal RVs. But inside they are equipped with a waiting area, exam room, and a restroom. The units will soon also have telemedicine capabilities, meaning doctors can review patients and prescribe medications from distant locations. 

"It's like street outreach," Howard Hitzel, president and CEO of BestSelf, told the Buffalo News. “We want to figure out, working in conjunction with local communities, how best to reach people and get them rapid access to care.”

One way the organization is working to make treatment more accessible is by providing services regardless of an individual’s ability to pay for them. 

BestSelf received a $1.7 million grant from the State Targeted Response grant program, awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to fund the mobile RV program. 

The mobile units are not new to BestSelf. Since September, the organization has been operating its Recovery Connections program and has serviced more than 200 people in that time.

Program director Ty Pope told the Buffalo News that there are many people who willingly accept the help offered. "We have pulled up to individuals on the street, people sitting near corners," she said. "You would be surprised how many people are ready to talk to you."

Often, the vehicles will return to places they previously visited. 

"People can't believe when we come back,” peer advocate Mona Lisa McEachin told the Buffalo News. “They’re grateful.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.