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  • (276) 328-8850
  • contactus@thehealthwagon.org

Free Mobile Health Care Services in Wise, VA

About Us

Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide compassionate, quality medical care to the medically under-served in the mountains of Appalachia.

About The Health Wagon

  • The Health Wagon is a nonprofit organization providing mobile health services to the medically underserved in Southwest Virginia since 1980.
  • The Health Wagon is the oldest mobile clinic in the nation.
  • The Health Wagon visits thirteen sites in Virginia’s Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, Lee, Scott, and Wise counties (and the City of Norton) to serve a severely medically underserved population.
  • Every dollar donated to the Health Wagon is approximately $100 reaped in health care benefits.
  • In 2018, the Health Wagon assisted more than 4,000 patients obtain access to care valued at over $5 million.
  • The Health Wagon provides:
  • Acute Disease Management
  • Behavioral Health Clinic
  • Cardiac Specialty Clinics
  • Cardiovascular Disease Management
  • Chronic Disease Management
  • Colposcopy Clinic
  • Community and group health coaching
  • Cystoscopies
  • Dentures at low cost
  • Dermatology
  • Diabetic Education
  • Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Clinic
  • Endocrinology Clinics
  • Eye Exams and Eyeglasses
  • Hearing Aid Assistance
  • Influenza Vaccine
  • Lab & Diagnostic Services
  • Medicare and Medicaid Enrollment
  • Medical Therapy Management
  • Nephrology Specialty Clinics
  • Ostomy Clinics
  • Pastoral Care/Spiritual
  • Pharmacy Connect & Medication Assistance
  • Physical Assessments
  • Podiatry
  • Pre- and Post-op Surgery Clinic
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychological Counseling
  • Pulmonary Clinic
  • Referrals & Follow-up Systems
  • Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Telemedicine Capabilities
  • Transportation Assistance
  • Urology
  • Women’s Health Clinic
  • Wound Care Clinics

Components of the Health Care Outreach

  • Nearly one million residents of Virginia lack health insurance.
  • The poverty rate among the population served by the Health Wagon is 70% to 140% higher than in the rest of Virginia.
  • 43.4% live on incomes less than 200% of the federal poverty rate, compared with 27.1% statewide.
  • 49.3% of those over the age of 25 do not have a high school diploma, compared with 24.8% statewide.
  • Chronic unemployment rates are five times higher than the statewide average.
  • Adults in the Health Wagon coverage area age 35-64 die 30% earlier than the same population in the rest of Virginia.
  • Additionally, as compared with the rest of Virginia:
  • Health Wagon clients are 21% more likely to die from diseases of the heart.
  • Health Wagon clients are 14% more likely to die from diabetes.
  • Health Wagon clients are 35% more likely to die from COPD.
  • Health Wagon clients are 40% more likely to die from unintentional injuries.
  • Health Wagon clients are 50% more likely to die from suicide.

Message from the Executive Director

Dear Friends of The Health Wagon,

This website is a wonderful and exciting opportunity to highlight the special activities and exceptional accomplishments that we can all be extremely proud of. The Health Wagon has experienced continued growth that can be attributed to kindness of our donors, to whom we offer our appreciation for allowing us to be stewards of their generosity. Some of the many highlights include:

  • The Health Wagon has 4,724 unduplicated active patients.
  • The Health Wagon documented 16,670 encounters/visits in 2018.
  • The Health Wagon continues to coordinate the largest health outreaches of their kind in the nation.
  • The Health Wagon has grown to operate three mobile health units and two stationary clinic sites.
  • Specialty clinics such as pulmonology, radiology, cardiology, endocrinology, ostomy, nephrology, ear nose and throat, women’s health (colposcopy), mental health, and dermatology clinics for patients offered in the region specifically for those without insurance.
Teresa-Director

As you look at our website, please reflect upon the extraordinary work that is being performed within our community and the profound unmet health care needs that we must continue to rise to the challenge to meet. We salute our entire family of benefactors: our dedicated staff, exceptional volunteers, board of trustees, the business community, community partners, foundations, elected officials, and individual donors.

Sincerely,

Teresa Gardner, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP

Staff

The Healthwagon staff is continually growing to meet the needs of the community. The Healthwagon is nurse owned and operated.

teresagardner

Dr. Teresa Tyson

Executive Director

drtysonnp@thehealthwagon.org

As in the autobiographical song written by Loretta Lynn, 'Coal Miner’s Daughter,' so was Dr. Teresa Owens Tyson. She was also born a coal miner’s daughter and was surrounded by the abject poverty that overshadows the Appalachian Mountains. Poverty perpetuated by the dying singular economy of coal that writes a narrative of desperation for those who live there. However, a much greater natural resource has also emanated among the mountain people, that of resilience and self-reliance. Dr. Tyson demonstrates these characteristics in her leadership, by changing and saving lives daily, turning back the tide of ever-worsening health care disparities with grassroots organizing and galvanizing resources like have never been seen before in Central Appalachia.
 

Dr. Tyson attributes her success of The Health Wagon to her resilience and resourcefulness that she developed growing up with adversity. She was raised poor and her dream growing up was to become a missionary doctorhelping others in some faraway land. As she grew into adulthood, she realized that her own mountain people were the ones needing her help. She went away to college but came home to start her life’s mission of reaching the poor. She started work as a registered nurse at the Health Wagon and learned to care for those in need. Dr. Tyson was fortunate to get financial aid and merit-based scholarships. She returned to school becoming a family nurse practitioner and ultimately received her doctorate. Her degrees include a Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Alabama, a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Kentucky and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from East Tennessee State University, all with honors. Every time she graduated, she came home to care for her people.

Dr. Tyson’s lifelong commitment to improve the lives of other has been recognized by a host of organizations. Dr. Tyson was also awarded the Virginia Governor’s Award for Volunteerism in regards to her coordination of the nation’s largest free health care outreach, and in 2015 was appointed by Governor McAuliffe to the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth Board of Directors. A curated list of these awards and recognitions include:

  • Governor's Volunteerism and Services Award, 2019
  • PBS Be More Award, 2019     
  • Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center (MATRC) Summit Breaking Barriers Through Telehealth, 2018
  • Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative award on behalf of the Health Wagon, 2017
  • Connections for Cardiovascular Health Grant Awardee, 2017
  • Leadership Excellence Award, Virginia Nursing Foundation, 2017
  • Primary Care Community Leadership/Research Award, 2017
  • United Nation’s Inspiring Global Nurse Award, 2017
  • AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation Connections for Cardiovascular Health Grant Award, 2017
  • ETSU College of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award, 2015
  • ETSU National Alumni Association Alumni Award of Honor, 2015
  • Daily Point of Light Award, 2014
  • Cabot Community Celebrity Award, 2014
  • AANP Domestic Humanitarian Award, 2012
  • AANP Nurse Practitioner State Award for Excellence, 2009
  • Kid’s Central, Inc. Community Service Award, 2008
  • Virginia Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award for Outstanding Nonprofit Group Award, 2007
  • Governor’s Nonprofit Volunteer Award, 2007
  • Virginia Governor’s Community Service and Volunteerism Administrator Award, 2004
  • Virginia Rural Health Association’s Best Practice Award, 2004
  • Award for Outstanding Devotion to Community, American Breast Cancer Foundation, 2001

On a more personal note, Dr. Tyson is married to Tim. They are blessed with a family of five wonderful children: two boys and three girls. She understands the plight of individuals facing uncertain health care crises -- her oldest daughter had a brain tumor at the age of seven and survived against all odds. She is compassionate and understanding of those that are impacted by disease and disability. She is a strong advocate and champion for health care equity for all. 

PaulaHill-Meade

Dr. Paula Hill-Collins

Clinical Director

paulahill@thehealthwagon.org

Dr. Paula Hill is a native of Southwestern Virginia. She has over 20 years’ experience as a primary care provider to rural health and vulnerable populations in Central Appalachia. For the past 10 years, she has served as the Clinical Director for the Health Wagon which is a free mobile clinic that began out of the back of Sr. Bernie’s Volkswagen Beetle giving free care. She holds dual certification as family practice NP and PNP.

Since Dr. Hill began as clinical director, The Health Wagon has grown to 2 stationary clinics, 2 mobile clinic vans and continued to add specialty services and innovative models of health care such as telehealth clinics including hands-on procedures by nurse practitioners. She is co-organizer of the M7 Move mountains medical mission (Formally Wise RAM), which is the largest outreach clinic in the U. S.

She obtained her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in 2010 at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She obtained her Masters of Science in Nursing in 1998 at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1989 at ETSU in Johnson City, Tennessee.

She is a strong advocate for nurse practitioners acquiring independent practice authority and has spoken at several local, state and national conferences. She has been interviewed by national and international media including being featured on 60 Minutes. She has testified before the Virginia Senate on NP full practice authority.

She is fellow of American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, a member of Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners; Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society.

She is married to a local attorney who partners with her in Collins-Hill LLC. She is an advocate for vulnerable patients and performs medical/legal consults.

She is the mother of two and is actively involved in church, social and community activities.

History

In 1980, the Health Wagon was founded by Sr. Bernie Kenny with the order of Medical Missionaries of Mary. She came to the Appalachian mountains at the request of the Richmond Catholic Diocese. She started the program when she began dispensing health care and a kind touch from her Volkswagen Beetle. St. Mary’s Hospital provided a valuable partnership and sponsored the program for over twenty-five years. Sr. Bernie turned over the reins of the organization in December 2005 to Teresa Gardner who has been with The Health Wagon for over eighteen years.

The Health Wagon continues to strive to meet the unique challenges of health care delivery to the medically underserved and indigent in poverty-stricken areas of rural Appalachia. Through the use of this innovative mobile health unit, health care doors are opened to many needy individuals, families and communities; doors that would have otherwise remained closed.

The Health Wagon visits eleven sites in Southwest Virginia’s Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, and Wise counties on a weekly, biweekly, and monthly basis. Accessibility to culturally sensitive primary health care services that emphasize education and prevention is considered the key to improving the health status for populations residing in these rural areas. Services are rendered essentially free of charge; however, donations are encouraged and accepted.

Community Profiles

The following documents provide detailed insight into the counties and other communities serviced by the Health Wagon.

Board of Trustees

In 1980, the Health Wagon was founded by Sr. Bernie Kenny with the order of Medical Missionaries of Mary. In December 2005, Sr. Bernie turned over the reins of the organization to Teresa Gardner who has now been with the Health Wagon for over 18 years. The Health Wagon continues to strive to meet the unique challenges of health care delivery to the medically underserved and indigent in poverty-stricken areas of rural Appalachia. Through the use of an innovative mobile health unit and two clinics, health care doors are opened to many needy individuals, families and communities; doors that would have otherwise remained closed.

Mission:

The Health Wagon provides compassionate, quality health care to the medically under-served people in the mountains of Appalachia.

Vision:

The Health Wagon is an innovative leader in the provision of quality health care services that are compassionate, comprehensive, and accessible whose ultimate mandate is to promote a healthy community through education, empowerment, collaboration, and outreach.

Values:

  • Inclusiveness
  • Community Outreach
  • Collaboration
  • Spirituality
  • Empowerment
PRESIDENT

Joseph F. Smiddy, MD

Pulmonary Associates Kingsport
Kingsport, TN

VICE PRESIDENT

Kermit Anderson

Charlottesville, VA

TREASURER

Valerie Stewart,

FNP Nurse Practitioner
Breaks, VA

SECRETARY

Patricia Sonner

Mobile Images
Bristol, VA

Nancy Eloise

Lawson Volunteer
Wise, VA

Charles Kiser

Volunteer
Coeburn, VA

Mary White

Binns Counts Community Center
McClure, VA

Roger Ramey

The Lions Club
Wise, VA

Shirley Woodard

Volunteer
Coeburn, VA

Jennifer Hammons

Volunteer
McClure, VA

Gordon Scott

Wise Co PSA Asst. Director of Project Dev.
Norton, VA

Financial Accountability

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” – Matthew 25:40

The Health Wagon’s Board of Trustees has the responsibility to be faithful stewards and to maintain integrity and transparency in all financial practices and affairs. Only 10% goes to administrative and fundraising activities, all other funding goes toward program expenses. We strive to present the health care needs of some of God’s most vulnerable people here in the Appalachian Mountains to the public and make know the unmet needs here in our region. We then trust the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of those whom He wants to help participate in meeting the needs through our valuable life-giving and life-saving programs.

990 Forms Available Upon Request

God supplies us with resources for our valuable outreaches through contributions and we therefore recognize our accountability both to God and to our donors. We feel we have a certain responsibility to be faithful stewards and to maintain integrity and open disclosure in our financial practices. Therefore, we are committed to fulfilling the following standards:

  • We are governed by a responsible Board of Trustees. Our Board meets to establish policies, approve budgets, and review operational results, health care outreach and accomplishments.
  • Our financial statements are prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. We obtain an annual audit in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards by an independent public accounting firm, Bostic and Tucker. Copies of our current audited financial statements are available upon request or can be downloaded from this website (see links above).
  • Our Board appoints an audit committee to review the annual audit and report its findings to the Board.
  • We seek to conduct our activities with the highest standards of integrity and to avoid conflicts of interest.
  • Our fund-raising initiatives clearly identify the purpose and programs to which donations will be applied, and we ensure that donations are used for the purposes for which they were raised. Our Board of Trustees directs that all contributions designated for specific projects shall be applied to those projects. Occasionally, we may receive more contributions for a given project than can be wisely applied to that project. When that happens, we use these funds to meet operational needs.
  • Contributions to the ministry are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. In order to help our donors determine the tax-deductible portion of their gifts, we receipt all donations showing the fair market value of any goods or services provided to the donor.
  • We attempt to operate the outreach without indebtedness. When we make a purchase, we pay the approved invoice within 30 days. We may have to occasionally borrow funds for capital expenditures, but if done so we promptly repay those loans.
  • We respect individuals’ privacy and do not sell or rent our mailing list to other groups wishing to use the names and addresses of our supporters. We maintain tight security on our list of friends and supporters.

Faith and Values

Health Wagon Inspirational Verses on Healing

Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benefits,

Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit,

who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.

~Psalm 103:1-4

He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

~Psalm 107:20

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wound.

~Psalm 147:3

Heal me, O lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for your are my praise.

~ Jeremiah 17:14

Be Still and Know that I am God.

~Psalm 46:10

But He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

But He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O lord, for my bones are troubled.

Psalm 6:2

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.

Psalm 30:2

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