Catholic Diocese of Knoxville to provide health care to the underinsured

KNOXVILLE, TENN (WVLT)-- A brand new health clinic is officially complete, but it doesn't have an address.

That's because it's actually inside a truck, loaded with everything to take care of those who need it most, wherever they might be, and it's free.

The whole initiative is paid for by the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville.

"This is essentially about taking the mission of Saint Mary's Ministry Hospitals out into the rural areas," says Sister Mariana Koonce, RSM, MD, and Executive Director of the clinic, "We want to extend the healing ministry of Jesus out to the poor and those who are unable to access health into the rural areas of East Tennessee."

After St. Mary's hospital was sold in 2011, the Catholic Diocese wanted to make sure its legacy lived on.

"St. Mary's has been around since the 1930's built by the Catholic community in the middle of the depression," says Bishop Richard Stika "so, this is actually the only extension of that hospital."

So who is going benefit from this program? Well, the Diocese hasn't released specific places yet but they say it will be in rural counties, at least one hour outside of Knoxville.

The truck built by Life Line Mobile is not equipped for emergencies, but rather primary health care services for those who have no insurance or can't get care.

When St. Mary's was sold, the Diocese made 14-million dollars, which made this truck and the health care workers a reality.

But they're still looking for community help.

"What we're looking for is an existing organization who want us to come to their community, they will provide a building, a place for us to park and a place for people to wait," says Sister Koonce.

If you want this truck to come to your neighborhood contact Sister Mariana Koonce at the Diocese of Knoxville, located at 805 S. Northshore Drive. (865) 584-3307.


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