A Rural Response to COVID-19

Treating Southwest Virginia's high-risk COVID-19 positive patients

Like so many people in our region, this sweet 99-year-old patient (pictured) had just completed an infusion of lifesaving monoclonal antibodies. We were the first in Southwest Virginia to offer this incredible treatment with each infusion taking two hours to complete. Ethan, Nurse Practitioner (pictured) has been leading our nursing staff through each infusion and they have administered over 2,000 so far! Our dedicated team has been on the frontlines since the very beginning working tirelessly to save lives in our region.

Families in poverty-stricken Central Appalachia Virginia work hard, but COVID-19 has taken their jobs, their insurance, and they can’t afford to see a doctor or buy their medicine. More families than ever are depending on the Health Wagon. The pandemic has created an almost war like situation for our nurses, exposed to COVID-19 daily, many have become sick or are in quarantine.

The Health Wagon's mission is to provide compassionate, quality health care to the medically underserved people in the Mountains of Appalachia. Our values are inclusiveness, community outreach, collaboration, spirituality, and empowerment. Forty years ago, Sister Bernadette Kenny of the Catholic Order Medical Missionaries of Mary began what is now known as the Health Wagon. At that time, Sister “Bernie,” as she is most affectionately known, traveled on rural mountain roads in her Volkswagen Beetle to deliver health care to individuals in the mountainous region of Southwest Virginia. Since that time, the Health Wagon has evolved from a Volkswagen Beetle to a used Winnebago and a singlewide mobile home that served as a stationary clinic.

Today, the Health Wagon provides care from two brick and mortar stationary clinics as well as three mobile units. The mobile units travel to thirteen sites located in our six-county service area – Wise, Buchanan, Lee, Scott, Dickenson, and Russell Counties and the City of Norton. The number of Health Wagon patients hit an all-time high at 6,161 for a total of 18,364 patient encounters in 2020. Value of care provided by the Health Wagon was $2,809,692. We have effectively managed to leverage resources to provide primary, secondary and tertiary care at NO cost for the past forty years.

The Health Wagon is the oldest mobile clinic in the nation. We host the largest health outreach of its kind in the nation Move Mountains Medical Mission (formerly Wise Remote Area Medical) and were an instrumental partner in the first ever FAA approved drone delivery of medications in the United States, in partnership with Flirtey, NASA Langley and others. The historic drone has been inducted into the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

Every $1 you give provides $100 in free health care! You’re saving lives. Thank you!

Charity Name
St. Mary's Health Wagon
Photo Credit
Teresa Tyson, President & CEO