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October 16, 2012

Walton firm aids rural health care in Ghana

A Delaware County company rolled out two mobile medical units on Monday that are destined to ply the back roads of Ghana, providing health care to its underserved residents.

The units are part of an order that NorthEast Fabricators of Walton is building for Odulair Inc. of Wyoming, itself a subcontractor for Belstar Development of Miami, which has been hired by the government the West African nation to overhaul its medical system.

It marked a new direction for NorthEast, which has been building boxes for truck or trailer chassis since 1997.

“We’ve never done all the finish work,” owner Bill Brodeur said Monday. “We built the basic box, unpainted, with nothing in it.”

“All the interior, all the finish work, we did this for the first time,” he said. “It’s never been done here before. The guys collectively did a great job putting this whole thing together. … It amazed me, just watching them do it.”

The mobile medical units are the first two of eight NorthEast is building for Odulair. The two delivered to Odulair on Monday were standard doctor’s examining rooms. Of the remaining six, two will serve as dental clinics, two will specialize in ophthalmology and two will be ear, nose and throat clinics, with an emphasis on audiology.

The units are mounted on Ford F-550 super duty, four-wheel-drive chassis that Odulair has had lengthened to accommodate the boxes. The four-wheel-drive is necessary to navigate rural road, because “African potholes can eat cars,” said Anita Chambers, Odulair’s founder and president. The vehicles also have engines that can burn low- and high-sulfur diesel fuel, which is the norm in Africa, Chambers said.

“This is part of a huge project,” Chambers said. “The entire medical infrastructure is being upgraded.”

As part of that, Chambers said, the government of Ghana decided to try a pilot project to provide medical care to remote villages via the mobile units.

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