Taulbee, 81 and a Coeburn resident, has come to the annual RAM Wise County clinic since its second year in 2000, and she recalls the 2008 clinic when specialists found she had lung cancer. On Saturday, she became the clinic’s 100,000th patient service encounter in its 20 years.
Health Wagon Medical Director Joe Frank Smiddy, one of the co-organizers of the clinic in its 20 years, had an impromptu reunion with Taulbee on Sunday and called her “one of the great success stories” of RAM.
In 2008, Taulbee brought her great-granddaughter Jaylynn Shelton to RAM for what she said changed both their lives. After an initial exam by Smiddy’s daughter Sarah, Taulbee was referred to Smiddy for a chest X-ray a few hundred feet away.
“They ended up taking most of my lung.” Taulbee said. “Doctor Joe doctored me after that and never charged me a penny.”
And later, Smiddy’s sister and retired Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Elizabeth Wills helped Taulbee’s family.
“His sister helped me get my great-grandbaby Jaylynn adopted,” Taulbee said. “We’re blessed with RAM and we need this.”
Taulbee pointed to her glasses as another example of RAM’s impact on her and her family.
“I’ve been coming here for years, and they even made my glasses last year,” Taulbee said. “You can’t say a bad thing about them. They give their time to help people.”
“This is for people who say they come and they go at RAM,” Smiddy said. “I’ve had dozens if not hundreds of discouragers who question what we do. We’re here for people like Dorothy and what we can do for them.”
Taulbee said that Smiddy and The Health Wagon’s services allow her to keep ministering to Health Wagon patients at the organization’s other free clinics across far Southwest Virginia in addition to the RAM summer clinic. She showed a handful of the cloth prayer bracelets she made and gave to RAM volunteers for the weekend.
“We’ve got to help each other in this world,” Taulbee said. “God used the Health Wagon to save my life.”