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Scott County rallies behind free health center

8:04 PM, Dec 5, 2012   |    comments
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A year ago Wednesday, Scott Christian Care Center opened its doors and began offering free health services to those in need.

Scott County has the highest unemployment rate in East Tennessee, and since its only hospital shut down earlier this year, the services have been greatly appreciated.

At the anniversary celebration, community members and patients thanked the volunteers, including Doctor Tom Kim, who travels 180 miles round-trip every Wednesday.

"I'm a Christian, I just feel so good about if I help one person today," said Kim.

Kim was greeted with a round of applause and gifts, but was quick to turn the focus from him to the Moon Pies, RC Cola, and bologna sandwiches, as he took a gigantic bite for the cameras.

"I feel so great. I'm just tickled to death to help and to see the volunteers helping too," said Kim.

Patients like Patsy Hayes attended the celebration.  She was brought to tears when she took the podium, telling her story of success.

"I came here for help, and they made me realize I needed help and that there was something more I needed to do," said Hayes, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in September. "I'm sure I would have let it go on until it got much worse, and I couldn't ignore it anymore. And by then, it probably would have been too late."

Like many East Tennessee residents, Hayes said health care costs are too high to handle.

"I know there's a lot of people like me that need healthcare, that don't have the money to see specialists, and have tests run and see doctors. There's not anything that you can do about that, if you don't have some place like this," said Hayes.

Kim runs other free health care centers similar to Scott Christian Care Center, and is expected to open another in Morgan County in January.

But before heading up to Sunbright, he hopes to recruit two volunteer doctors and one nurse to help at the Oneida location.

"I'm begging more doctors to come over here. If you can't, see one free case at your office every day," said Kim.

"There needs to be other doctors that are so fortunate, to be able to come and help, and volunteer for things like this. I believe it would make their lives better and I know it would make ours better around here," encouraged Hayes.

Scott Christian Care Center does not help as many patients as the larger Knoxville location, but if more doctors are available, Kim hopes more patients will come to the facility.

The center also has a food bank and personal needs pantry for those in need.

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