Dr. Betterton and his wife Dorothy arriving to care for their patients. Photos submitted

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — No matter the weather they are out there. Every Monday, year after year. Doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses,

Keira Wyatt prepares to hand out hot meals.

case managers,  pharmacy students and RN’s are joined by volunteers and donors to provide free health care, a hot meal, and personal items to the poor and homeless.

Community business Big O, one of the groups that provides free meals.

There are no fees charged. People are seen by those in the medical field who are there not for profit but to do one thing: use the gifts and skills they have to help heal others. They do it not with a brick and mortar clinic but rather in the parking lot of a church at 2700 Magnolia Ave. The doctors there have one mission : To do doctoring even if they have to do it under a tree. That is exactly what they do and they are not alone.

Dr. Purkey, Doctor Betterton and his wife, Dorothy a nurse practitioner, care for the body at the Free Medical Clinic. There are usually 125 to 150 who come for help every Monday. Those who come have no insurance. Many have nothing but the clothes on their back  yet they receive the best of care. They also receive a hot meal under the coordination of Cynthia Finch and Keira Wyatt who partner with community organizations who bring individual hot meals for the people to consume after seeing the doctors.

Cynthia Finch stays vigilant about safety during all events serving the public.

The Free Medical Clinic has consistently served the people during Covid-19. They have been careful to provide masks to all, and have practiced social distancing while serving.  Different organizations have lined up during the pandemic to make sure the most vulnerable are fed, clothed, and receive the personal items that so many that for granted.

In the beginning of the pandemic, Greater Warner , New Directions Health Care Solutions, and CONNECT Ministries handled the feeding of the people.  Over the summer and fall, others have stepped up to  help. The Salvation Army, CAC, NAACP, and area businesses are

Nurses from University of Tennessee pharmacy school volunteer at the Free Medical Clinic.

some of the groups that have volunteered to take specific Mondays each month and feed the people.

Food is not the only need met by the public. The clinic has also provided wheelchairs, walkers, and other provisions. There has also been on site census counting, frequent covid 19 testings have been held and flu shots are upcoming.

“Access to Health Care Matters “says Ms. Finch who runs the Free Medical Clinics. For years, she and many others have banded together to make sure it does.