Friday, July 22, 2011

Organization Helps To Bring Free Health Care To Virgina

The Remote Area Medical Health Expedition is making its twelfth visit to Wise County on July 22.

The number of people needing free healthcare seems to be greater than ever. Before all of the medical equipment is unloaded and set up, lines are already beginning to form for free eye, dental and medical care.

Its offered by the organizers of the Remote Area Medical Expedition based in Knoxville.

Of all of these types of events held by RAM worldwide, this is one of the largest. "I think we did 38 of these things last year, of which this was one of the largest. Every time we come to Wise County, Va. we reckon we're going to see somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 patients," RAM organizer Stan Brock said.

"I think you can probably take this event and have it anywhere in the nation because there's such extensive health care need. [You can] certainly use this as the poster child but you could take this and replicate it anywhere in the nation," said Teresa Gardner, the executive director of the local Health Wagon.

There will be screenings and basic health checkups, but there are a couple of needs that are most in demand. "Dental and vision, actually dental because there's such a big need for dental care here in the Appalachian region," said Paula Meade, the Health Wagon clinical director.

Even though the medical staff won't see the first patients until Friday morning, the line for tickets to get treatment is already forming. "If you want a ticket to get in and get out you need to come early. I don't have insurance, this is the way I get my mammogram done. I did a breathing treatment here last year that's how I found out I have COPD," said Linda Allen, one of the first in line.

Volunteers have another health concern as well. They hope people don't get too hot standing in line for hours as they wait to be seen.

The event opens Friday morning and runs through the weekend at the Wise County Fairground.

Last year more than 1,400 people were helped with dental problems and more than 1,000 got an eye test. More than $2 million of free medical care was provided.

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