A service that helps lower income families get the care they need broke ground on its first headquarters Tuesday. The St. Mary's Legacy Clinic is a mobile clinic that drives to rural counties and gives free health services.
The clinic started running in January. Its goal is to help bring healthcare to those struck with poverty.
Now, a new headquarters is on the way and they have high expectations on what this will mean for the service. The headquarters will include more room for storage and office spaces.
On the outside, it looks like a large trailer. On the inside, you will find a doctor's office.
The medical center on wheels makes its way to three counties around East Tennessee.
"We go out, and it's all volunteers. I am a physician by training so we can go out. And there is a team of nurses with me. And we can have these services for them on a regularly scheduled basis," said Sister Mariana Koonce with St. Mary's Legacy Clinic.
The truck started making trips to Athens in McMinn County, Washburn in Grainger County, and Crab Orchard in Cumberland county this year. And it is looking to grow.
With a new headquarters, efficiency is expected to go up, giving their truck a home.
"This whole project is relatively new, so we just have been doing it peace meal in terms of storage and office space. And we are trying to just bring it all together for efficiency and time," said Bishop Richard Stika with the Diocese of Knoxville.
The new building will house the truck and medical supplies, as well as add offices in the building itself. Currently, their storage and offices are miles apart. Creating an extra hassle for a program designed to help people who slipped through the health care system.
"They truly are falling through the cracks. And we are here to fill the gap. And try to provide them access where they otherwise wouldn't have access," said Sister Koonce.
Although the need is great in some areas, it can still be a challenge raising the number of people served.
"It's been slower to build in Washburn. That community has been, even though there has been vast amounts of needs, it's been harder to draw people to the clinic there," said Sister Martha Naber with St. Mary's Medical Center.
But this is only the beginning of the Saint Mary's Legacy Mobile Clinic. A large group watched as the first shovel hit the dirt. A shovel that symbolizes a movement to helping those in need.
"There is a tremendous need for this clinic. There are so many areas in which people do not have any insurance or are not able to afford any type of care."
It was a groundbreaking event that also broke ground on health care.
The mobile center has served close to 100 people since it has began.
Next week is the final week of the clinic for the summer. It will be back in operation at the end of August.
If you would like to volunteer with the group, visit http://stmaryclinic.org.