Pandemic halts summer health clinic

Mike Still • Apr 21, 2020 at 5:30 PM

WISE — For 20 years, Remote Area Medical, The Health Wagon and the Virginia Dental Association Foundation (VDAF) coordinated on their three-day summer free clinic despite rain and heat.

The COVID-19 pandemic has halted what would have been the debut of its successor event this year.

Officials from The Health Wagon and VDAF announced Monday that the 2020 Move Mountains Medical Mission has been canceled.

“Public safety is of the utmost importance, and after planning the event for 20 years, it was a painstaking decision, but everyone’s health and safety were paramount,” Health Wagon Director Teresa Tyson said. “We will be planning for a 2021 event knowing how deeply meaningful the event is to the region for saving lives and knowing that thousands had come to depend on the event for free eye, dental and medical services.”

The event, which would have been the first without Remote Area Medical participation due to The Health Wagon’s growing partnerships with other health care organizations, was set for July 10-12. While the medical and vision clinics for the event would have been at the Wise County Fairgrounds, dental services would have been held at the UVA Wise David J. Prior Convocation Center.

“After convening the Wise Mission of Mercy dental clinic since 2000, we are saddened to cancel this year’s event,” VDAF Executive Director Tara Quinn said. “However, our greatest concern is the overall safety of our patients and volunteers. The VDAF knows that so many across Southwest Virginia remain desperately in need of dental care, and we anxiously await the time when we can return to help relieve their pain.”

Planning continues for a 2021 Move Mountains Medical Mission summer clinic, Tyson said, and this year’s medical and vision volunteers will be contacted for next year’s sign-ups.

The Health Wagon is planning a social outreach event, including giveaways and donations to the community, when it is safe to be in crowds again. For more information, contact the Health Wagon at (276) 328-8850 or email Nicole France at nfrance@thehealthwagon.org.

Volunteers for the 2020 summer event who have a hotel or lodging reservation are asked to cancel immediately.

For more information about The Health Wagon, call (276) 328-8850 or visit www.thehealthwagon.org.

For more information about the Virginia Dental Association, visit www.vdaf.org.

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