District No. 3640

MEA Diabetes & Hypertension Van

In 1977, G. Anthony "Tony" Jones of the Waterville Elks Lodge #905 introduced the idea that the Maine Elks Association could purchase a vehicle, and provide testing for Diabetes and Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) to people across the State of Maine, free of charge. By providing this service, early detection of these potentially life threatening conditions is possible. Early detection of these conditions could possibly prevent serious medical problems in the future.

Shortly therefter, the Maine Elks Association voted to approve the idea, and the Maine Elks Diabetes-Hypertension Van program was underway. That year, the Maine Elks purchased a 1975 (17 ft) Recreational Vehicle and remodeled it. Within a short period of time, it was discovered that entering and exiting the van was difficult, as it had only one door.

So, in 1983, a new 30 ft. Ford RV Van was purchased without windows, but had two doors. It was remodeled with three stations for testing inside. In 2003, the van was restored, and is now in excellent shape. The unit (picured above and below), is based at the Waterville Elks Lodge #905, and is under the direction of Richard V. Willette Sr.

Here are some statistics for the period of March 1, 2004 to March 31, 2005

Miles Traveled:
6029 Miles

Tests Performed

Director/Driver Hours: 623 Hours
Volunteer Technician Hours 464 Hours

*There are 18.2 million people in the United States, or 6.3% of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 13 million have been diagnosed, unfortunately, 5.2 million people (or nearly one-third) are unaware that they have the disease. With 70,000 of them living in Maine.

**In addition, 50 million people in the United States have High Blood Pressure, or 32.8% of the population, with almost a quarter of Maine's population having this condition. The unforunate thing about these two life threatening conditions is that many people do not know they have it. Because of this, the Maine Elks Association adopted this program as its first major project.

Recently, the van has undergone some additional renovations, one of which includes the addition of a generator that will allow the units air conditioners to work during the summer months. This will make it much more comfortable for technicians and those being tested.

The unit is available throughout the year, and can travel to any location within Maine. The unit is available to any group or company willing to sponsor it, all that is required is to book it, and provide technicians. For more information on the program, or to book the van, contact Diabetes-Hypertension Van Director Richard V. Willette Sr. at (207) 872-2555 or (207) 649-9550.

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