SEVIERVILLE — A total of 158 patients received physical examinations at the Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic health fair on Wednesday and Thursday last week.
Every six months or so, Mountain Hope, in conjunction with the James H. Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University, offers two days of free physicals to Sevier County residents and employees with no health insurance. The 78 people seen on Thursday set a one-day record.
Patients received basic lab screening as well as thorough physical exams and discussions of their health history. Students of the College of Medicine, supervised by faculty, conducted the exams. Sevier County Health Department personnel also handed out and discussed information on health subjects with patients. Medical and other volunteers helped in various ways, from taking basic lab tests to handling paperwork.
“These are always busy days for Clinic staff,” said Ashley Burnette Justice, director of fund development. “We couldn’t do it without help from a wide variety of resources.”
For example, two local businesses provided lunches for the volunteers. Citizens National Bank and Great Smoky Mountain Catering Company went out of their way to provide food that volunteers called more delicious than usual. In addition, SmartBank supplied bottled water for volunteers and for waiting patients.
Why do businesses contribute? Christina Ricci of Great Smoky Mountain Catering said that because of the services to the community that the Clinic offers, “It’s an honor to be a part of it.”
Volunteers who took part included Christina Adams, Natthew Arunthamakun, Jackie Burk, Kitty Coykendall, Jim Kayon, Emma Kepka, Trudy Lodge, Grace Mikels, Sandy Moersdorf, Hardik Patel, Carol Pierce-Barr, Shanae Rayfield, Patricia Richardson, Jerry Sandifur, Mackenzie Thomas and Corlis Williams.
The advantages of taking part in the clinic are numerous. For Clinic patients, it’s a free health check. For prospective patients, it’s an easy way to get on the Clinic’s rolls. Usually, because of time constraints, the Clinic can take in only two new patients every day. Because the health fair participants have now had an exam and have filled out paperwork, they are automatically on the roll and can make an appointment whenever it’s needed. The benefit for ETSU students is that working at the Clinic gives them hands-on experience with real patients.
The non-profit Clinic offers quality medical and dental care to the county’s uninsured for a modest fee. The Clinic supplements these fees with several fund-raising strategies to ensure that the whole cost to the Clinic of each appointment is covered. There are now more than 20,000 patients of record. However, the demand for the Clinic’s medical and dental services still outstrips the number of appointments available.