Ranking 95 out of 95 counties in Tennessee for health outcomes should be considered a state of emergency for Grundy County officials and residents. The county sits above the state average in poor quality of life (poor or fair health, poor physical health days, poor mental health days, and low birthweight), poor physical inactivity, limited access to exercise opportunities, high teen births, and other health factors. These issues, combined with a high rate of uninsured citizens in the county, effect individuals, families, businesses, and entire communities.
St. Thomas Hospital of Nashville, recognizing a need for health care access in the county, brought their Medical Mission to Grundy County High School on Saturday. At the site, uninsured and underinsured of the area had immediate access to physicians, lab work, dental care, eye care, and mammograms. A pharmacy was set up to provide no-charge medications. And, local agencies were present to offer information for follow-up care.
“This is our first time in Grundy County,” said President/CEO Karen Springer of St. Thomas. “We reach out to communities most in need, and have served Hickman, Madison, and Rutherford counties with previous missions.
“Today, we are stressing the importance of follow-up care. Every person who comes through the mission is asked if they have a primary care physician, and if not, we attempt to link them to someone, especially if they have serious medical issues. We want to impact them to find resources in their counties,” springer explained.
Medical professionals at Saturday’s mission saw over 300 people. Upon registering, attendees entered the school’s gym where volunteers took their vital signs and they were seen by a physician. A lab was set up to perform any needed lab work. The upper gym was set up to offer information on foot care, local health services, and ophthalmology.
One of the largest draws for area residents was dental care. Organized by Hope Smiles of Nashville, the cafeteria housed stations where extractions could be performed.
Dr. Phillips Kemp, of Hope Smiles, said their main objective in the dental area was to help people who were hurting.
“We are here to love on these people,” said Kemp, explaining that this is what God has called them to do. “We started missions with four chairs, now we are up to 24. Many of the people here have no access to dental care and we are performing extractions, easing their hurt.”
Kemp and his team, including an oral surgeon and a pediatric dentist, were able to offer patients x-rays, extractions, and dental care information.
Over 400 volunteers from St. Thomas and the community assisted attendees throughout the day. Lunch was provided, and each patient received a box of food.