Foundation to offer free mobile health clinic in Sullivan, Hawkins

Hank Hayes • Apr 16, 2013 at 10:27 AM

The Knoxville-based St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation hopes to reach out to uninsured and medically needy Northeast Tennesseans by offering them a free roaming mobile health clinic this fall.

"It will provide primary medical care on a regular, ongoing basis to the underserved communities of Northeast Tennessee,” John Deinhart, director of Stewardship and Strategic Planning for the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville, said of the mobile clinic. “This will be an active ministry. We will get the relationships started, the volunteers lined up and set a regular schedule. ... There will be an opportunity to keep up a relationship with a patient.”

A map of the clinic’s anticipated coverage area suggests it will be going through the Highway 11-W corridor in Sullivan and Hawkins counties.

The rolling clinic will set up in church parking lots, parks and other publicly accessible areas, Deinhart added.

A general practitioner will be available at the clinic, while community partners will be sought to offer lab and radiology services.

In establishing the need for the clinic, Deinhart cited Tennessee’s negative national health rankings: 44th in diabetes, 36th in smoking, 35th in obesity, 41st in cardiac health and 48th in high blood pressure.

He indicated the foundation was planning the mobile health clinic whether or not the state decided to participate in an expansion of TennCare, Tennessee’s Medicaid program.

Deinhart said a recent Tennessee Medical Association analysis estimated full implementation of the federal health care reform law could reduce the state’s uninsured rate by 10 percentage points.

“(But) even in the very best-case scenario, there’s still about six percent of the folks who are going to be uninsured or underinsured. The need is significant. ... Our goal is to be that gap filler,” Deinhart pointed out.

The foundation was formed in November 2011 following the sale of St. Mary’s Hospital to provide support for Catholic ministries begun by the Sisters of Mercy, which opened Kingsport’s St. Dominic School in 1946.

Within a year’s time, the foundation doled out more than $600,000 in grants to East Tennessee charities, including St. Anthony Bread in Johnson County.

The foundation says that while grants will continue to be awarded to Catholic institutions, the services provided by those institutions are not limited to serving only Catholics.

For more about the foundation, go to www.dioknox.org.

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