At least a few hundred people will receive free medical and dental care at a planned Remote Area Medical clinic in Lee County later this year. RAM organizers, as well as local health and government leaders, met Friday to discuss plans for Lee County’s first ever RAM clinic.
According to Lee County County Administrator Dane Poe, the clinic will be held September 13th and 14th at Lee County Airport.
“(Expected services that will be provided include) dental, vision screening, eyeglasses, women’s health, chest X-rays and general medical checkups,” Poe said.
News of the upcoming clinic is especially welcoming considering Wellmont Health System closed Lee Regional Medical Center in Pennington Gap last October. According to Poe, that decision left the closest hospital from Jonesville roughly 30 miles away.
“We’ve needed it a long time,” Pennington Gap Town Manager Phil Hensley said. “The work they do, especially the dental and eyeglass work, is something we really need. I think we’ll have more people than they can serve.”
RAM founder Stan Brock made the trip to Lee County to help plan the event. He says adult dental care is the most pressing need right now.
Roughly 50 people attended the organizational meeting, including Donna Martin.
“I was just compelled to check into it, because I thought it was a way to give to the community,” Martin said. “I think it’s great that all these people are willing to give their time to do this.”
The Lee County Ram clinic will come just two months after this year’s planned RAM clinic in Wise County. That clinic is scheduled for July 18th through July 20th.
“It has been truly amazing watching this health outreach grow to the proportions that it has today,” The Health Wagon Executive Director Teresa Gardner said. “It has been a blessing from God with the support and remarkable care people have received over the years.”
According to Gardner, during the last 13 years, the Wise Ram clinic has provided almost $19 million in health care, serving more than 73,000 patients during that time.
Although the vast majority of patients served are from Wise and the surrounding Southwest Virginia counties, Gardner says people from other states, some as far away as Florida and Texas, also have attended in the past.
In addition to the Wise Ram clinic, up until this year, Remote Area Medical has also hosted clinics at Bristol Motor Speedway for a three-year stretch. However, BMS says no RAM clinic is planned at the speedway in 2014.
“There are no plans for RAM to be at BMS this year, but they may return in 2015,” BMS Communications Manager Lynsey Wilson said.
RAM said ram its smaller Lee County event is part of its “Stop the Suffering” initiative, which aims to bring much-needed medical and dental services to Appalachia.
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