Suspicious fire destroys critically needed mobile health unit in San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A suspicious fire destroyed a large mobile health unit in San Jose, creating a setback for services to low-income and homeless residents. The fire broke out around 7 a.m. Sunday in the back of the Gardner Family Health facility on E. Virginia St., which owns and operates the unit.

The unit is one of two that serves about 55,000 adults and children each year.

Maribel Montanez, fund development director at Gardner, says the mobile unit is a total loss. Also lost was medical equipment on board. Gardner is seeking donations to replace the destroyed mobile health unit. Replacement cost has not yet been determined, but it could run in the tens of thousands of dollars. Outfitting the custom-built unit could take four to five months.

The loss of the unit comes at a particularly critical time as it was used to administer flu immunizations to the homeless and to low income patients.

There is no camera video of the fire.

San Jose city council member Sergio Jimenez happened to be at Gardner Monday morning to learn more about its community services. He says he will look into what the city can do to help with efforts to replace the mobile health unit. He also believes members of the community will also step up with contributions.

Gardner Family Health is celebrating its 50th year of operations in the South Bay. Besides medical care, it also provides dental and vision care, along with substance abuse services and counseling. The nonprofit organization got its start, addressing the needs of agricultural workers in the Alviso area.

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