When you hear the term “mission trip” does travel to another country come to mind? Saint Thomas Health in Nashville, Tenn., has revolutionized the term “missionary” through its Medical Mission at Home events, which provide health services to the underserved in Middle Tennessee.

“There’s such great need, I only wish we could do more,” said Sister Sherry Barrett, DC. “We provide every kind of service you could imagine in three events like this throughout the year. We serve in Nashville, Rutherford County and Hickman County, which is one of the poorest counties in the nation.”

For the past five years, associates and volunteers have provided free medical, dental, vision, hearing, mental health and social services, spiritual care, foot care/washing, and pharmacy services (through the Dispensary of Hope) to anyone in need. The Health Ministry’s last event took place in September 2013 when 163 people received more than 600 medical encounters from more than 150 volunteers.

The dental and vision “clinics” draw the highest number of patients at the event. “I’m here for more than just their teeth, I’m here to ease their souls,” said Phillip Kemp, DDS, who provides all of the dental services at the event through his charity, Hope Smiles.

“It is our responsibility as a Mission-driven ministry to care for the poor and vulnerable, especially in our own communities,” said Nancy Anness, Vice President, Advocacy, Access and Community Outreach, who leads the events. “We are one healing community and through that we are able to provide services for those in our community who cannot afford to buy food or pay rent, much less afford to seek healthcare services on a regular basis."