A MEDICAL CRISIS:
3,000 people seek help in rural Virgina.
B Y L U C I A N P E R K I N S
REMOTE AREA MEDICAL:
SERVING THE UNINSURED
Photography by Lucian PerkinsAt 2 am on a Friday morning, the parking lot to the Wise County Fairgrounds is almost full and still, car headlights are snaking down the road as far as the eye can see. The day before, Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical, piloted his DC-3 into Wise, Virginia, to lead a free medical clinic supported by hundreds of volunteer doctors, dentist, nurses, students, and other health professionals. By 5 am, over a thousand people are lined up waiting and hoping to receive care from Remote Area Medical. “The vast majority of the people are here because they desperately need dental care, they desperately need vision care, all of them really need to see the medical doctors as well,” explains Brock.
Over the next three days, families sleep in their cars next to the clinic waiting for their turn. “ We spend the night, up to two nights sometimes, depending on what we have to have done. We just have to suffer through it. We don’t have the income to pay for the dental work we need done,” says Otis Reese who is camping out with his family of four. Nearly 3,000 people made it into RAM’s clinic for their medical needs during the three-day clinic. “I just look at these people and I hurt,” said volunteer dentist Wallace Huff, “because they’re such good people and hard working people…and I just want to do all I can do and I want to do more.”
This year RAM will travel to 21 towns and cities throughout the United States.
“Over the last few days I probably saw 500-600 people maybe more… We’ve got a lot of 18 and 20-year-olds here who are going to lose all their teeth and it’s the most heart breaking thing in the world.” Volunteer Wallace Huff, DDS.
Video by Lucian Perkins