December 15, 2020
By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer
A new pact giving qualifying Roane State students access to free medical care may be the first of its type in the nation, officials said.
The community college has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Free Medical Clinic, which has healthcare facilities in Oak Ridge and Harriman.
The clinics normally provide medical services only to eligible residents of Anderson, Morgan and Roane counties. The MOU offers those services to all Roane State students who meet guidelines, regardless of their home addresses.
Available medical services for students in any of the college’s 10 locations in nine East Tennessee counties range from a variety of health care evaluations and treatments to annual physicals, flu shots and other vaccines, lab work, telehealth video calls and medical imaging procedures.
“We have so many students in need right now,” said Roane State Dean of Students Dr. Lisa Steffensen.
Neither Roane State President Chris Whaley nor Free Medical Clinic Executive Director Billy Edmonds said they were aware of similar arrangements between comparable medical clinics and higher education institutions elsewhere. “This is somewhat historic,” Edmonds said.
“We have tried to make sure we are working to meet the variety of needs we know our students have,” Whaley said. The college now has programs in place to address food and housing insecurities as well as technology-related needs. “I’m just excited for us to add another resource to help our students,” he said.
Edmonds said while the Free Medical Clinic will be of help to Roane State students, it will also “expose our patients to the free educational opportunities that Roane State has for adults.”
The two clinics register around 4,900 appointments annually and there are some 2,000 patients, he said. Another 14,000 residents in Anderson, Roane and Morgan counties are eligible for its services, Edmonds said.
Roane State students lacking health insurance and meeting income guidelines can now access healthcare from the Free Medical Clinic by registering at the clinic’s Oak Ridge headquarters. A photo ID, proof of income and Roane State enrollment proof are the only registration requirements. Signups can be in person or by phone.
The Oak Ridge clinic is located at 116 East Division Road, just about one mile from the college’s Oak Ridge Branch Campus. The clinic’s phone number is (865) 483-3904. The Harriman clinic is at 521 Devonia Street behind the former Harriman Hospital off Roane Street, and the phone number is (865) 234-6053.
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