Off the grid medical van brings mobile healthcare to northern communities

Startup company co-founder Steven Glass hopes this project will showcase the practical applications of electric vehicles in more remote areas

Prince Albert electric vehicle (EV) startup Paved To Pines partnered with the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) for a project called Wellness On Wheels to further medical coverage in northern communities. The newly built off-grid medical van will deliver services in the Prince Albert area and further north. 

“We had just seen a need in the community and that initially got us thinking about how we might be able to retrofit our units for a cheaper option… a mobile unit that can actually do more good within the community,” Paved to Pines co-founder Steven Glass said. 

The interior is about six and a half feet high, measuring around six feet wide and 13 feet long. (Photo courtesy Paved to Pines)

“It’s going to be a little bit of everything. I think the immediate goal is on site. They’re going to be set up for sampling, vaccine deliveries, or even just health discussions. They’ve got a few ideas that they’re going to be running with, mostly from a mobile scenario.”

Glass and his business partner Mitchell Rosko first appeared on CBC’s Dragons’ Den last December. Paved to Pines was initially looking at ways to help provide safe injection sites in Saskatoon and that’s when the PAGC approached Glass and his team for the northern project. 

“It was a beautifully timed meeting with PAGC when they approached us,” Glass said. 

“PAGC will have sole ownership of this unit. They have their main centre set up in Prince Albert, just across from the hospital.” 

The van’s interior is about six and a half feet high, measuring around six feet wide and 13 feet long.

What makes the EV models unique is that they can be powered “off the grid” through a variety of renewable energy options. 

The van in battery powered with the option to switch to a generator. (Photo courtesy Paved to Pines)

“It’s got a few different features based on the needs that they have. It’s got a heavy duty alternator charger. So when they move from site to site, they’re going to be mainly topped up and be able to last for quite a while,” Glass said. 

“For their needs, it was really important that they always have a power source with it being staffed and seeing patients. So instead of going with solar, where you’re dependent on good sunny days, we went with a generator option for them. It’s a small portable generator that they can top up with.”

Electric vehicles have long been categorized as an urban phenomenon, with access to alternative sources of power being harder to come by in rural and remote areas. 

But Glass is looking to change that. He hopes this project will showcase the practical applications of EVs.  For now the vans are addressing immediate needs by offering healthcare services with multiple options, from offering samples to family care. But Glass is interested to know what more can be done.

“I think the most important part of this project is being able to discuss it and share it within this community. This is something that is going to require a lot of feedback to be able to fine tune and hopefully come up with better models in the future,” Glass said.

“There’s so many different things that can be delivered with these vans. Now it’s going to be getting them talked about and discussed in communities.”