Mobile clinics represent an integral component of the healthcare system that services the community in regional, rural and remote geographic areas of Australia, as well as providing specialised services in major cities.

Increasingly, mobile clinics are being specifically designed and built to provide high-quality health services such as medical, dental, breast screening, blood donation, renal dialysis, cardiology and bone density, to name some of the most common builds, all developed to improve the availability and capability of healthcare services.

Varley Vehicles, part of the Varley Group, has been engineering and manufacturing custom-built mobile clinics for over fifteen years, and continue to integrate current technologies and resources into their designs as they advance. Over time, the design and capability requirements from their clients in the health, government and health insurance industries have evolved and now place greater emphasis on a modern smart design using innovative build methods.

The modern mobile clinic

Earlier designs of mobile clinics were less refined in body structure and conservative in terms of both size and resource, and the on-board generators were noisy, bulky and heavy.

Today, the vehicles that house mobile clinics include electrics, internet connection, and more specialised innovative features like electric steps and wheel chair access. The on-board generator is engine driven, meaning it is quieter, lighter and takes up very little space, leaving extra capacity to include other essential facilities.

With the clinic, a reception area with patient waiting area and workstation can be provided. A basic specification includes air conditioning, fresh and waste water, and easy clean interiors, but it is also possible to achieve increased internal space by adding slide-out sides, and adding 4WD enables access to more remote regions.

 “The skies are the limit with design innovation, integration and technology when it comes to a custom-built mobile clinic, as long as it stays within the Australian standards”

David Mckay, NSW General Manager – Varley Vehicles

A groundbreaking project

A recent design, build and commission of two mobile medical clinics on behalf of a private operator in New South Wales, led to a decision to use the project to develop new technology, further enhancing Varley Vehicles’ mobile clinic offering within the industry.

Varley’s vehicle of choice was the IVECO daily cab chassis, as it provided a light weight, automatic, Euro feature that means it’s easy to operate the base and a complete flat floor can be achieved inside the clinic. Previously Varley would consider vehicles such as the Fiat Ducato, which provides a very low floor, however, the rear wheel arches protrude into the clinic space which restricts flexibility.

The floor system comprises a Varley designed and fabricated aluminium structural subframe, which is topped by a light weight composite sandwich panel. This provides high strength, light weight and insulation from engine and road heat transfer.

After some research into the ADRs (Australian Design Rules), Varley were able to increase the length of the standard box body by 200mm. While this does not seem like much it adds over 1 cubic meter of internal volume.

The IVECO chassis height allowed all equipment and services, such as house batteries, electric controls and fresh and grey water tanks to be housed below floor, thus maximising usable interior volume. Varley adopted their standard medical clinic layout of two separate consulting rooms separated by a toilet cubicle.

Each consulting area is serviced by its own entry/exit door. Access to these doors is via a new Varley design electric access steps, which stow neatly into the body skirts when not deployed. The forward consulting room contains a work station area for the medical practitioner, wash station, examination couch and ample stowage in both floor level and overhead lockers. This area is also the location for the electronics and network connection rack.

The rear consulting room contains a work station for the medical practitioner and patient seating. Ample stowage is provided via floor level and overhead lockers. The toilet compartment contained an RV (recreational vehicle) style cassette toilet, and hand basin. This was screened from the consulting rooms via sliding doors.

Providing customised options

In addition, Varley’s in-house engineers designed a new composite roof panel that provided superior insulation and structural properties along with the capability to route services internally to provide a very clean smooth high gloss surface. The roof panel also incorporated an integrated reverse cycle air conditioner and, 4G aerials.

Floor level lockers are topped with sanitary grade stainless steel benches, sinks and splash guards. The lockers in the clinic, along with all furniture in the reception area, were all a totally new design. These were a fabricated in powder coated aluminium and fitted with self-latching aluminium doors, with the white high gloss finish combined with the stainless steel bench tops providing a smooth, easy clean finish.

The floor was covered with a clinic grade, non-slip, vinyl floor covering in a colour chosen by the client. This vinyl floor forms a covering at the floor to wall joint creating a seal to make cleaning easy. All services for the clinic are run under the floor.

The body features double glazed windows with captive internal venetian blinds. The near side of the body features an electric roll out awning that protects the entry and exit doors from sun and rain. It also features a hydraulic auto stabiliser system to prevent movement during operation of the clinic.

The final result satisfied all the clients’ requirements and the final weight savings justified Varley’s decision to embark on the path to update the design.

Making healthcare accessible

Delivering health care to people who might otherwise miss out due to their geographical location is making a life-saving difference to communities throughout Australia. These custom-built mobile clinics provide instrumental services and facilities in areas where appointments may be missed due to lengthy driving times or a lack of sufficient appointment availability.

Mobile clinics are specifically designed and manufactured to integrate the latest electrics, technology and equipment for the purpose, enhancing their ability to provide quality comprehensive patient check-ups, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up for both general and more specific health conditions.

Each custom design mobile clinic is engineered and manufactured to the Australian Design Rules using high quality clinical grade materials for the sanitary and safety needs of patients and medical workers.

Written by Kristen Elloy, Marketing Specialist, Varley Group