The Health Wagon is organizing two major health outreach events this summer that will bring free medical services to Southwest Virginia, including one with no-cost veterinary services.

The Remote Area Medical health expedition marks its 20th year in Wise when the event returns to the Wise County Fairgrounds June 28-30.

The Appalachian Care Innovative Readiness Training Health and Wellness event makes its second local appearance, running Aug. 19-26 at the fairgrounds with free health services for both people and animals.

The IRT mission provides real-world training opportunities for service members to prepare them for their wartime missions while supporting the needs of America’s underserved communities.

“We are blessed and exhilarated to bring these much needed services to our deserving patients,” said Health Wagon Clinical Director Dr. Paula Hill-Collins.

The Health Wagon, RAM and the Department of Defense conducted a walkthrough at the Wise County Fairgrounds May 29 to prepare for the outreach events.

“I witnessed the astounding services the Innovative Readiness Training event provided a few years ago in North Carolina and knew that we needed to bring this event back home to our patients,” Health Wagon Executive Director Dr. Teresa Tyson said.

In addition to no-cost medical services, the Innovative Readiness Training event also will provide no-cost veterinary services. Free rabies immunizations, spaying and neutering will be provided for cats and dogs under 70 pounds.

To schedule a no-cost veterinary surgical procedure, call the Wise County Animal Shelter at 276/679-6750.

Tyson has played a significant role in bringing both the Remote Area Medical and Innovative Readiness Training events to the area.

"Without the Health Wagon’s undying commitment to their underserved patients these no-cost, lifesaving medical services would not be available in our area," Hill-Collins said.

The Health Wagon is a nurse practitioner-managed clinic that has been in existence for more than 30 years, providing no-cost health care in Wise, Dickenson, Buchanan, Lee, Scott and Russell counties and Norton city.

Similar to last year, The Aetna Foundation — now part of CVS Health — will be a platinum sponsor of this year’s RAM clinic and is deepening its offering to people who visit the clinic.

In collaboration with Feeding America Southwest Virginia, Aetna will distribute 1,500 pre-packaged boxes containing non-perishable food items, along with some fresh produce, which is new this year.

In partnership with CVS, volunteers will also distribute personal hygiene and feminine hygiene kits.

“We’re proud to have an even bigger role in the Wise clinic this year, thanks to now being part of CVS Health,” said Mike Bucci, Aetna’s capitol market president. “Broad-based clinics such as this help to address often-neglected issues that affect people’s health, such as low income, lack of insurance, distance from services or lack of access to nutritious foods. The reality is that for many, this is the only health care they’ll receive all year.”

Many services will be offered during RAM's three-day expedition including: Complete eye exams, prescription glasses made on site, dental fillings, extractions, cleanings, hearing exams, hearing aids, chest x-ray, ultrasounds, bone density, lab work, mammograms, pap smears and other exams.

These services will be provided for the uninsured, underinsured and unemployed and those who cannot afford to pay. All services are provided at no cost.

Registration for services will begin at 6 a.m. daily, from Friday, June 28, until Sunday, June 30. Services will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

If transportation is needed, residents of Norton and Wise, Lee, and Scott counties can call Mountain Empire Older Citizens Inc. Transportation at 1-888/877-6748. Dickenson, Russell, Tazewell and Buchanan County residents may call Four County Transit at 1-888/656-2272. Immediate notice is required.

During the IRT event in August, services include eye exams, single-lens prescription glasses, dental fillings, extractions, cleanings and physical exams.

Services provided by the Health Wagon include chest x-rays, ultrasounds, bone density, lab work, mammograms, pap smears and other screenings.

For more information, call 276/328-8850 or visit www.thehealthwagon.org.

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