The Tennessee-based Remote Area Medical organization will no longer take part in the annual summer health outreach near Wise that started 20 years ago.

RAM announced in a press release this morning that it will not work with The Health Wagon and other local partners on a 2020 event. Instead, RAM intends to focus its limited resources on other areas with greater need, the organization said.

The Health Wagon intends to continue in 2020, renaming the event Move Mountains Medical Mission, according to the release.

RAM held its first clinic in Wise in 1999, at the invitation of The Health Wagon’s Sister Bernie Kenny and Dr. Teresa Tyson. “Since that time, thousands of Remote Area Medical volunteers have provided care to tens of thousands of patients in the Wise, Virginia area. RAM ensured residents of Wise County and nearby areas had access to the vital care they needed by working with The Health Wagon, Virginia Dental Association Foundation’s Mission of Mercy, and a variety of other community partners.”

The release continues: “However, in recent years, The Health Wagon and other organizations have built infrastructure and capacity around eye, dental, and medical resources in the Wise, Virginia community. Because of this, and because of RAM increasing its number of clinics in surrounding areas, the number of patients served at the Wise, Virginia clinic has declined year-to-year over the past several years. At the same time, RAM continues to receive dozens of clinic requests from communities across the country that, due to capacity, the organization is unable to fulfill.”

“We feel it is the best use of RAM’s time and resources to focus on areas that lack the excellent health care that The Health Wagon, Mission of Mercy, and other organizations are able to provide in Wise County,” said RAM CEO, Jeff Eastman. “We are honored to have worked with The Health Wagon and Mission of Mercy in the past and to have served the Wise community.”

“The Health Wagon and the residents of the region are forever indebted to RAM, for they brought countless resources to patients in Wise, Virginia for 20 years,” said Tyson. “We are honored to have worked with RAM and all the incredible partners who have made the largest health outreach of its kind in the nation possible year after year. This is a time of transition and The Health Wagon is planning to continue health outreach annually as the Move Mountains Medical Mission to provide free medical, dental, and vision services to patients in Wise and surrounding regions.”

People who have been volunteering at the Wise clinic are invited to volunteer at other Remote Area Medical clinics. More information about RAM’s clinics and about volunteering at RAM’s clinics is available at ramusa.org.

Volunteers who are interested in continuing to volunteer with The Health Wagon at the 2020 health outreach event, Move Mountains Medical Mission, and future outreach events are asked call 276/328-8850 as soon as possible to be added to the volunteer system.

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