When 2019 rolls around in Wise, the 20th anniversary Remote Area Medical health expedition will move into June.
The Health Wagon, which collaborated with RAM almost two decades ago to establish the massive outreach at the Wise County Fairgrounds, will mark the milestone event June 28, 29 and 30.
Health Wagon Executive Director Teresa Tyson said Thursday they had consulted with a string of other supporters and partners to pick a date that would fit as many as possible. They have 10 major partner entities and more than 200 collaborators who participate at RAM, Tyson noted.
Unlike this year, RAM will not fall on the same dates as the seventh annual Chillin' and Grillin' in the Glades bands and barbecue event in Wise nor the Mission of Mercy dental outreach, which held its clinic separately from RAM this year but on the same weekend.
The Virginia Dental Foundation said in a recent email it was not ready to announce next year's Mission of Mercy clinic date but it would be forthcoming. Tyson, however, said she had confirmed through them that the new RAM date would not be in conflict.
When the dental foundation separated from RAM this year to move its operations indoors at the Prior Center at UVa-Wise, RAM partnered with a new team of dentists and dental students who want to return.
"God just keeps blessing us," Tyson said. "We just keep having new partners and it continues to grow and expand. It's so re-energizing."
In looking at next year, she said, they did not want to have both health events on the same day. Health Wagon patients are the ones who are benefitting from both, she said, and there was a lot of confusion this year to the patients.
Having the events at separate times, she said, eliminates the confusion and "we look at it as an expansion of the dental service."
Planning is already underway for next year, she added, and one service they are considering is veterinarian services for pets. There was overwhelming demand at one they offered in combination with an Army Readiness Training event they conducted last year.
RAM's move into June also separates that event from Grillin' and Chillin' in the Glades, which also landed on the same weekend this summer. The influx of out-of-towners who came to Wise for the three big events stressed the area’s accommodations capacity.