Bishop Richard F. Stika blessed the St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic, a 40-foot-long family doctor’s office on wheels, which was dedicated as diocesan and community leaders cut the ceremonial ribbon.
Sister Mariana Koonce, RSM, MD, director of the diocese’s Health Services Office, will be the mobile clinic’s medical director and family-practice physician.
The mobile clinic will be owned and operated by the Diocese of Knoxville and will extend the healing ministry of Jesus to East Tennessee, continuing the work of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, who opened St. Mary’s Hospital in 1930.
The mobile clinic, built by LifeLine Mobile of Columbus, Ohio, was built under the direction of Sister Mariana and was made financially possible through a grant provided by the St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation of East Tennessee.
The clinic will travel to remote communities across East Tennessee, providing much-needed relief to many medically underserved families living in rural areas of the diocese. Medical care will be free of charge and available to anyone regardless of age, gender, or religious affiliation.
“I look upon our clinic as a family-physician practice on wheels,” said Sister Mariana. “This mobile clinic will allow us to provide non-emergency primary medical care to those who are most in need. And this will be provided free of charge through the financial support of the St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation.”
Bishop Stika praised the mobile clinic and its mission of providing medical care to the underserved areas of the diocese. Reminding those gathered for the dedication of his prayer that we all become the face and hands of Jesus Christ, he said the clinic is an example of this selfless act of love and service to our neighbors.
The clinic will focus on 24 of the 36 counties in the Diocese of Knoxville, stretching from the Cumberland Plateau to the North Carolina border and from the Kentucky border to the Georgia state line.
The clinic is expected to begin serving rural communities in the diocese by November. Communities or organizations wanting to invite the mobile clinic to their area should contact Sister Mariana at the Diocese of Knoxville, 865-584-3307.
“The legacy of St. Mary’s can now extend into communities that don’t have the resources to provide the care that the medically underserved desperately need,” said John Deinhart, staff officer for the St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation of East Tennessee.