'Appalachian Care' uses Army partnership to serve southwest Virginia
WISE COUNTY, Va. - With the help of the military, thousands of southwest Virginia residents have the chance to access health care resources at no-cost. The Army is partnering with the Health Wagon in Wise County to offer the health and wellness event, which opened Tuesday. The special partnership is allowing health officials to offer new services. It is called Appalachian Care with Dr. Teresa Tyson heading up the mission to make sure southwest Virginians get access to health care resources. She is always finding new ways to expand the care at no cost to patients. The latest effort includes Army readiness training. "It's actually a training exercise for the medical personnel in the Army, but it's also a way they can reach out and give back to the community," Tyson said. The Health Wagon is sponsoring the nine-day health and wellness clinic; this time the organization is partnering with the 399th Combat Support Hospital unit out of Massachusetts. More than 50 service members offering medical, dental, vision, and veterinary services to those in need. One of the patients who came to opening day was Princeton Smith from Appalachia. "It means a lot to me because I have two children. I have other expenses that I can't afford right now, and this really helps me out," Smith said. News 5 requested numbers for the services and how many patients are expected to receive care. According those documents, there is capacity to serve around 120 medical patients, in vision, 60 in dental, 20 in veterinary all on a daily basis. The veterinary component is new for Wise County, which offers spay and neuter services. "Unfortunately, there was such a demand for this, we went to appointments-only and all the appointments are booked up," Tyson said. Tyson said veterinarians are not allowed by law to volunteer at these types of events, so having soldiers available is what is making that possible. She hopes to address the law to open up the option in the future. Vaccinations are still available for pets without appointments beginning at noon each day. May 18 and 25th are designated for days to serve disabled patients. Those days are by appointment-only. Tickets will be handed out beginning at 2 p.m. for the following day. Services are first-come, first-serve.