Blount County Poverty

Blount Co. (WVLT) - Of every 100 live births in Blount County, more than nine percent are low birth weight babies.

Nearly three percent of blount county families receive needy family assistance.

These are just some of the consequences of poverty.

And now, Volunteer TV's Jessa Goddard reports, the people that serve the under-served are taking a walk in their shoes.

"I was a 15 year old male child in a family of four."

"I was Olivia. I was a 12 year old girl with learning disabilities."

"And we ended up losing our home and wound up in a homeless shelter."

"Being able to see the struggles that my mother had to deal with, how hard it was for her to get food, to pay our mortgage."

This is a role playing simulation, but the situations are real life.

The Blount Memorial Good Sumaritan Clinic is marking 10 years of providing health care to the county's medically under-served and uninsured.

But instead of a party, they hold a poverty simulation.

Instead of a catered lunch, they eat cornbread and pinto beans.

It's all to remind those that serve the under-served of the challenges they face to make ends meet financially, while balancing children, school and work.

Geanna Stewart with Good Neighbors says, "It's hard to get these services. They have to have appointments, wait in lines, it's time consuming, they're sometimes giving up time at their work."

Nearly 32 percent of Blount County residents under the age of 21 are Tenncare recipients.

Nearly 2,000 children are completely uninsured.

Many face barriers such as language and transportation, but also the attitudes of the people who assist them.

Julia Pearce with the Good Sumaritan Clinic says, "You get desensitized a lot of times after dealing with these same types of situations day in and day out."

"This is to remind us, for sure, look at it from our patient's perspective."

For every 10 of those patients, six are uninsured, Three have tenncare and one has medicare or some other type of government-funded insurance.

In just 10 years, the Good Sumaritan Clinic has more than tripled the number of visits it records each month.

In 1997, it showed about 400 visits per month.

This year, the clinic is averaging about 14-hundred visits on a monthly basis.

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