The hospital of the future doesn't have four walls, it has four wheels

Kathy Ferrell goes where the people are.

And she doesn't go alone.

Kathy is Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital's Mobile Health Outreach Coordinator. She directs the daily route of the hospital's Mobile Health Unit, Ministry in Motion, taking health care directly out to the homes, workplaces and community locations where people live, work, worship and gather throughout Rutherford County.

Seeing babies, children, young people and adults of all ages, the Unit performs pediatric well-child visits, immunizations, sports and school physicals, vision screenings, and behavioral counseling and support for children and adults.

"We're on the road four to five days every week," Kathy said. "We work hard to break down barriers between people and access to health care, including language, financial resources, transportation and information."

Kathy has lots of stories to tell about the people she sees every day. Like the four-year-old little girl with three abscessed teeth. Her family is from Myanmar and speaks little English. Her mouth was hurting, but all she could do is point to her teeth.

The Mobile Health Unit team got her in to see a dentist quickly. She was immediately treated for the pain and scheduled for oral surgery.

"She didn't have a single tooth that didn't have something wrong with it," Kathy said.

Another story: A Hispanic grandmother came to the Unit with her daughter and grandchildren. Kathy's team checked her blood pressure, which was "sky high". Because she had no health insurance, Kathy and the team worked to get her into the Saint Louise Clinic and on blood pressure medication.

"We've checked her every month, and her blood pressure has been within normal range for the past three visits," Kathy said.

The operation of the Unit is an active, living example of the Saint Thomas Health Mission, which is improving the health of individuals and communities, with special attention to the poor and vulnerable.

"This Ministry is a core strategic commitment within our annual Care of Persons Living in Poverty and Community Benefit Plan," Kathy said. "We are a faith-based health care institution, and we operate by the principles of human dignity and common good. The Mobile Health Unit partners with the Saint Louise Clinic, the Guidance Center, Primary Care & Hope Clinic and Saint Thomas Emergency Medical Services."

Ministry in Motion is in service 4 - 5 days each week. Please contact Kathy Ferrell at or 615.396.4693, for additional information.

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