A free mobile medical clinic in Southwestern Virginia, known as the “Health Wagon” is serving record numbers of patients this year, due to COVID -19. And even though the pandemic is spiking, they report that have not lost a single patient to the disease.
Busier than ever, the Health Wagon is, as always, up and running.
“You know, the thing I just want to emphasize is please get your flu shots,” says Teresa Tyson, Nurse Practitioner and CEO of the Health Wagon. “You can call the Health Wagon. We will immunize you. You can come by. We'll do it in your car. We’ll take good care of you. We promise.”
Four mobile units and 2 stationary health clinics, one in Clintwood and one in Wise, offer a wide range of medical care, free of charge. There’s also a fee for service office in the mix.
Tyson says recent donations have helped cover more patients and staffing is now 25 full time and 25 part time people.
Tyson says, “We're going to have a record-breaking year of patients, as one can imagine, with the COVID pandemic that has ensued. I think we'll probably top out seeing about 24,000 patient encounters this past year. “
Ever since the Health Wagon was founded it’s always relied on creativity and innovation to help patients who had no way to pay.
“And one of the most innovative things is, we developed the first post COVID-19 clinic, I think, in the South.”
Tyson describes the sort of syndromes she sees. “You know, some people; they have survived COVID, but now, weeks, a month later, we're seeing that they have residual complications from the COVID. We're seeing them with lung issues, heart issues, brain fog.”
Tyson says the after care is critical.
“I have had so many people tell me that they were told by their provider, there's nothing you can do. Just, “treat the symptoms of a cold. And then if you get really short of breath and you feel like you're dying, then go to the emergency room. That's not what we were taught. We were taught to treat.”
Tyson outlines what she describes as the Health Wagon’s Holistic approach to treatment of COVID Patients.
“So, there are things that you can do. There's vitamin C that you can take. There are other things that you can take. We've found that for patients (who) tested positive. if there's no contraindications, we can give them Zinc. There's aspirin that we can add on if there's no contraindication, because people develop clots. There's a lot of common-sense things you can do to bolster the immune system.”
Tyson says it’s an approach that’s working for her patients.
“Fortunately, for us at the Health Wagon, where we've been so very proactive in getting people the supplements that they need and the treatment they need; and we've not lost one person.”
“Thanks be to God” She says, “We give glory to God for that.”
The Health Wagon was founded by sister Bernadette Kenny. She is described as having been innovative and wise.
More than 40 years on, the mobile health units Kenny set in motion continue their daily rounds, demonstrating the same kind of creativity that has always driven the ‘wagon.’
And now thanks to a partnership with the University of Virginia, they’ve expanded their services to include telemedicine.