No-cost health care for people and animals will return to the Wise County Fairgrounds later this month thanks to a joint operation by the Health Wagon and the U.S. Department of Defense.
The Health Wagon, which provides medical care for underserved individuals in Appalachia, primarily in Southwest Virginia, has partnered with the Innovative Readiness Training program, a Department of Defense military training program.
During the event, which is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 19-26, military and civil personnel will provide eye exams, single lens prescription glasses, dental fillings, extractions, limited cleaning, general health care and veterinary services. The services are open to everyone at no cost, according to the Health Wagon, which also worked in the past with the Remote Area Medical.
The IRT delivers joint training opportunities to increase deployment readiness. It was previously held in Wise County in spring 2017.
Dr. Teresa Tyson, the Health Wagon’s director, applied for the IRT program, which resulted in the community being chosen for services in 2017 and this year.
During the nine-day event in 2017, more than 3,000 health care services were delivered, including 305 medical, 927 optometry and 459 dental services. Veterinarian encounters numbered 1,759; pets were vaccinated, spayed or neutered, or received other types of treatments, according to the Health Wagon’s 2017 annual report.
This year, the Air National Guard is providing services in Southwest Virginia.
The IRT event will have two days specifically for individuals with disabilities on Aug. 22 and Aug. 26, by appointment only. To be scheduled on a disability day, call the Health Wagon at 276-328-8850.
Veterinary services this year include spaying, neutering, rabies vaccination and immunizations for cats and dogs. Animals need to be at least 4 pounds and 4 months old and no more than 70 pounds for surgery. The rabies vaccine will be available for pets that are at least 12 weeks of age.
Guests must bring pets in a crate or on a leash, according to the Health Wagon.
All animals are required to be vaccinated before surgery, and a rabies vaccination will be provided if needed.
Due to the overwhelming demand for veterinary services, the Health Wagon said spaying and neutering is being offered by appointment only. To make an appointment, call Wise County Animal Shelter at 276-679-6750. If this service is full at the time, individuals can be placed on a wait list in case of cancellations. Rabies vaccinations are being offered each day, and appointments are not necessary.
“There is a huge need for vet services, and I just spoke with the animal control center who is doing the scheduling for us, and there is a nine-page waiting list for spay and neutering,” said Haley Meade, a registered nurse with the Health Wagon.
In conjunction with the IRT mission, the Health Wagon is also offering services to the community. Individual assessments by taking complete medical history and comprehensive physical examinations, blood work for cholesterol, including HDL, LDL and triglycerides, will be available in addition to glucose and hemoglobin A1C readings, according to the Health Wagon.
Other services offered by the Health Wagon will include blood pressure checks, height, weight, pulse, pulse oximetry, EKGs (if medically indicated), urinalysis, hearing tests and vision screening. Colorectal screenings, bone density screenings, prostate and testicular exams, pulmonary function testing and smoking cessation education will be offered. Women can receive pap smears and clinical breast exams.
Participants are encouraged to not eat or drink after midnight if blood work will be performed. People are encouraged to take a bagged lunch and water because food services will not be available. Services are provided at no cost to the community.
If transportation is needed, residents in Lee, Scott and Wise counties and Norton can call Mountain Empire Transit at 1-888-877-6748, and residents in Dickenson, Buchanan and Russell counties can call Four County Transit at 276-963-1486. Immediate notice is needed.
“There continues to be an extensive need for dental and eye services, even in light of the best efforts that we have provided with past clinics,” Tyson said. “The health care needs here in the region are great. We are most excited about the offering of the veterinary clinic because controlling the area’s animal population means less abandoned animals in need of homes.”