Congratulations to the Health Wagon of Wise – winner of the 2019 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award for Outstanding Faith-Based Organization! For more than 25 years, the Health Wagon has provided compassionate, quality health care to the medically under-served individuals and families in the Appalachian Mountains. Originally sent to the region in 1980 by the Richmond Catholic Diocese, Sister Bernie Kenny began dispensing healthcare from her Volkswagen Beetle. Today, the Health Wagon is a free, mobile clinic and two stationary clinics delivering quality health care which last year treated more than 4,000 of the neediest individuals in Southwestern Virginia – 86 percent with no insurance who would not have been able to access quality healthcare otherwise. In 2018, The Health Wagon had nearly 3,500 individuals volunteer with the organization. Volunteers provide primary and preventive care, dental, behavioral health, tele-health, and specialty care. In addition to their routine services, they provide the region with strategically coordinated outreach efforts and are currently leading the charge to sign up patients who are eligible for Virginia’s newly expanded Medicaid program.
The Health Wagon’s Remote Area Medical – Wise Health Expedition, held annually, is the largest medical outreach of its kind in the nation. Thousands of individuals come to this three-day event and get needed free eye, dental, medical and diagnostic services. This event demonstrates unprecedented collaboration of a multidisciplinary group that consists of dentists, ophthalmologists, opticians, social workers, nurse practitioners, nurses, physicians, emergency medical technicians, and more.
For the families and individuals living in this region, the Health Wagon has truly been a lifesaver for addressing health care disparities in a population that has few resources in health care.