UT students step in to help give Knox County residents free healthcare

A few retired doctors and nurses along with some UT students are working off the clock to helping people get access to free healthcare.
Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 7:24 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The East Knox Free Medical Clinic has been going on at the Magnolia Avenue United Methodist Church for nearly a decade.

Every Monday, many come to get free lab work, physicals and needed prescriptions. Farley Hardison, a patient at the clinic, said he’s thankful for the clinic’s services.

“They be on the job! They be on the job! You know, I wouldn’t know what I would do if this clinic wasn’t here. I just come right around the corner. It’s convenient, very convenient,” says Hardison.

Dr. Janet Purkey has been volunteering since the start of the clinic.

“We don’t ask, we don’t tell, we don’t care because there are a lot of people who have insurance and can’t afford the co-pay, or before COVID they couldn’t afford the bus to get to their appointment plus the co-pay. There’s a lot of reasons why people can’t afford to see their physician,” says Purkey.

Purkey said during the pandemic, a lot of the retired nurses and doctors haven’t felt safe to come back and volunteer at the clinic yet. But University of Tennessee students have been volunteering their time to help give patients the care they need.

“I’ve been coming here pretty much since my freshman year, and I’m currently a junior. I’m pre-dental so it doesn’t have much with what I want to do in the future, but again, I really like helping out people,” says student volunteer Varun Rangnekar.

Clinic Coordinator, Dorothy Davidson says the clinic is important to the East Knox Community.

“It’s very important because this is the only place these people have for continuity of care. In other words, their chart is maintained, they have a record, and can be maintained on the same medications,” says Davidson.

Davison also says the clinic needs help with a few maintenance issues.

If you can help with the electrical system, painting and roofing of the church, you are asked to message the clinic on Facebook or give them a call at (865) 264-0678.

The East Knox Free Health Clinic runs inside of the Magnolia Avenue United Methodist Church weekly from noon to 4 p.m.

Patients do not have to make an appointment in order to be seen.

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