Leaders of the Health Wagon in Southwest Virginia have been working exhausting overtime hours at their clinics and mobile units to provide COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and monoclonal antibody treatment to patients. They are also providing the treatment to Ballad patients, to take some of the burden off of hospital workers.
These community heroes, directed by Dr. Teresa Gardner Tyson, are also working overtime to take care of their clients.
“I found a love for mission work right in my own backyard,” Tyson SAID.
Tyson inherited a love for mission work and found it close to home with the Health Wagon, where she proudly has been for almost 29 years.
“I think just being the hands and feet of Jesus,” she said. “We are a faith-based ministry, and I think everybody does this from the heart. I work with such wonderful, wonderful staff.”
But keeping the doors open to the oldest mobile free clinic in the United States has its challenges. The Health Wagon gives free care, but the care they give is not free. It takes things like supplies and personnel.
“We work very hard at the funding, at the end of the day, I kinda leave that in God’s hands, because he called us to do this mission, and if He called us to do this mission, then He will pay for it,” she said.
So Tyson relies on faith to help pay the bills and a staff with servant hearts like hers.
“I have a passion for it, and there are people that come alongside us that have that passion, and it’s a beautiful job at the end of the day, and I’ve loved it since day one and will continue to love it and continue to serve people,” she said.
And they serve a lot of people in Appalachia. In 2018, the Health Wagon assisted more than 4,000 patients. And the need is growing.
“If you keep doing things the way you’ve always done them, you’ll get the same results. We don’t want the same results,” Tyson said. “We live in a region with health care disparities, and we can’t keep doing things the way we always did them. We have to get resourceful, we have to think outside the box and do things differently. Take care of people. Remove barriers. That’s what the Health Wagon is all about.”
She says it’s about helping the people who need it most.
“It’s just a very beautiful mission that we have.”