WAUSAU — In response to the rapidly growing health concerns of the area’s rural population, Hope Life Center is purchasing a mobile unit to reach isolated populations with free services that include: testing and treatment for STI/STDs, pregnancy tests and obstetric ultrasound exams, according to a news release from the organization.

“We’re seeing a trend in recent years of clients who find it difficult to make or keep their appointments. Now we’re going to them with a specially outfitted mobile unit with all our services available on board,” said Jack Hoogendyk executive director of Hope Life Center.

Most recent statistics from the Center for Disease Control show STI/STD rates are rapidly rising in the state and nation, according to the release. Early detection is critical and often curable but most go undiagnosed. One of the most disturbing findings in the government report reveals an increase in syphilis rates among newborns.

“Our new unit’s footprint will expand our reach to clients in remote areas like White Lake, Wittenberg, Marathon City and Merrill where none of these free services currently exist,” Hoogendyk said. “Based on the successful track record of other mobile units across the country, we’re expecting to make a significant contribution to helping people in need with our mobile unit services.”

The capital campaign will kick off Sept. 14 with a visit from a similar unit from another center. Potential donors and others will be able to tour the unit and learn about the services offered. The goal is to launch in central Wisconsin by April 2018.

“The exciting news is we’ve already raised a major portion of the $250,000 needed for staff and maintenance of the unit,” Hoogendyk said. “Community support is enthusiastic and fully behind our mission.”

Hope Life Centers, located in Wausau and Antigo, are faith based and privately funded. They provide pregnancy testing, limited OB ultrasounds, STD testing and treatment, tangible goods like diapers and clothing, education, encouragement and abortion recovery classes, according to the release. All services are free of charge to qualified clients.