WISE COUNTY, VA (WJHL) – Dozens of people began getting tickets Thursday that allow access to a three-day event that provides free dental and medical services to thousands across our region.
The Remote Area Medical clinic in Wise County is now part of the political backdrop to a larger issue — the debate over access to health care.
Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe is among the lawmakers critical of Republican efforts to
repeal the Obamacare health law. The Governor, Senator Tim Kaine and candidate for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam plan to visit the RAM clinic this weekend.
Gov. McAuliffe extended that invitation to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but a spokesperson for McConnell’s office told us the top ranking senator will not attend.
More than 1,400 volunteers, including physicians, nurse practitioners and dentists will provide free health services at the RAM clinic.
“Everything from specialty exams to getting free lab work to free diagnostics,” said coordinator Dr. Teresa Tyson. “Every year we find patients that have life threatening illnesses that they’re not aware of that they have, and they can come out and do something really positive for their health.”
Brit Wallace is a patient, who says without RAM, he wouldn’t have access to his dental needs.
“I go all year long usually and don’t see a dentist or a doctor,” Wallace said. “The services they are providing would cost an arm and a leg.”
But aside from those receiving care, Dr. Tyson says there are also some prominent political names on the guest list.
“I’m always motivated by people having to wait in line for days to try to figure out solutions here where we can have a health care system that really provides coverage for everybody,” said Senator Tim Kaine.
Kaine said he will be there Friday, and others invited include Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring.
“We want politicians to see the health care access issues that we see here as a free clinic,” Dr. Tyson said.
The Remote Area Medical clinic opens at the Wise County Fairgrounds Friday morning, but if you plan to take part you can get a ticket that allows access to the event ahead of time.
Organizers with the Health Wagon encourage patients to arrive early because medical care is administered on a first come, first serve basis.
The RAM clinic runs Friday through Sunday.
The clinic opens at 5 a.m. daily.
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