By Dan McWilliams
The St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic is hoping to replace its vehicle that has served the needy in East Tennessee for more than seven years.
An open house and fundraiser May 8 at the clinic’s home site at Divine Mercy Church in West Knoxville served to call attention to the clinic and its desire for a new mobile medical van.
“This is an open house—we wanted to just let people know about the clinic and what we do,” said Sister Mary Lisa Renfer, RSM, MD, medical director of the clinic. “We’re also raising funds for our clinic replacement fund. Like any vehicle, our clinic doesn’t last forever, so we’re getting ready in the next five or so years to be able to replace the clinic, so that’s what the fundraiser today is for.”
Thanks to a generous donor, the clinic has to raise only about half of the $510,000 needed for a new vehicle.
“We have a matching donor who’s going to give us $250,000, so we’re hoping to raise $250,000,” Sister Mary Lisa said.
“The mobile clinic replacement fund is set up to replace our existing vehicle when it is no longer usable. The projected date for the medical van’s replacement is 2027, after about 14 years of service. The new clinic would help us to continue our ministry to the rural areas of East Tennessee that we are doing now with our current clinic.”
Sister Mary Lisa said she hopes the clinic’s current vehicle can find a new place.
“At this point, we do not have a specific plan for where the old clinic would go, but we would look for a good home for it, perhaps with a ministry that does more local travel and could make use of the older vehicle in a safe manner,” she said.
There are many ways East Tennessee Catholics can help the clinic in its mission to replace the vehicle.
“They can support us by donating through our website, stmaryclinic.org, or through our Facebook page,” Sister Mary Lisa said. “We always appreciate the support of prayers. We’re always looking for new volunteers. We have four staff; otherwise, we’re totally volunteer-run. Any kind of support people can give would be a great help to us.”
The clinic is also “actively looking for a new executive director” to replace Brandy Fuesting, Sister Mary Lisa said, “so that job is posted through the Diocese of Knoxville.”
Seeds for the St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic were planted as far back as 1930, when the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas founded St. Mary’s Memorial Hospital in Knoxville. Known later as St. Mary’s Medical Center, the hospital was managed from 2008 by Mercy Health Partners. In 2011, Mercy Health Partners was sold to Health Management Associates Inc., a for-profit hospital organization.
As a result of the sale, and with money negotiated from that sale, the Diocese of Knoxville established the St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation to provide support for the ministry begun by the Sisters of Mercy with the opening of the hospital in 1930. With the support of Bishop Richard F. Stika, the St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation provided funds for the purchase of the St. Mary’s Legacy mobile clinic.
After it began to see patients in January 2014, the clinic now travels approximately 100 miles per week to extend the healing ministry of Jesus to East Tennessee.
Currently, the clinic visits Washburn, Decatur, Rutledge, Athens, and Gatlinburg once a month and Crab Orchard twice a month.