The Health Wagon, a free-clinic serving uninsured in Central Appalachia

St. Mary's Health Wagon provides lifesaving health care to uninsured patients in Southwest Virginia.

Let us tell you The Health Wagon story. The Health Wagon is the oldest mobile clinic in the nation - started by a Masachusetts catholic nun, Sr. Bernie Kenny. Sr. Bernie began delivering health care to residents in far Southwest Virginia from a Volkswagen Beetle in 1980. Our average patient is 38 years old. Sixty-five percent of our patients are completely uninsured. Our patients live in desperately poverty-stricken rural Appalachia, where they can’t afford to go to the doctor but can’t afford not to. The mobility of our health clinic means we are able to fill the gap, whether they are in line at the food bank or at their job, we bring health care to them. The Health Wagon provides Southwest Virginia and the surrounding region with compassionate, high quality health care services. We serve the most vulnerable in our population that do not have access to health care. Our patients have no insurance or may have insurance but have high co-pays and deductibles.

The Health Wagon serves a region once sustained by coal. Coal is an industry that has decreased significantly the past five years. The Health Wagon does not bill for services. The Health Wagon is sustained only by grants and donations. The Health Wagon needs grants, donations and contributions to operate clinics. $1 donated provides $100 worth of health care services. A donation of $25,000 would provide $250,000 of health care services to an indigent patient population in Central Appalachia. Those services would be lifesaving services (primary care, specialty care, diagnostic services, dental, optometry, lab services). The Health Wagon creates a medical home for our patients and give access to health care services that they would otherwise do without. Daily at our clinic, someone’s life is forever changed or saved because of the services of that the Health Wagon offers. We create access and more importantly hope to those who come through our doors.

This grant would make a lifesaving lasting impact on the six-county service area served by St. Mary's Health Wagon. This grant would provide lifesaving health care services to people in dire need of primary and specialty health care. Patients in this region will forego a procedure or appointment if they know they will incur a bill they cannot afford. Many would choose to not have the procedure done. This grant would provide funding to help those patients who are in need of dental procedures, glasses made, and medical services such as EKGs, ultrasounds, x-rays, mammograms, etc.