Free RAM clinic to return to Appalachian Fair

Sue Guinn Legg • Oct 6, 2018 at 1:00 AM

The free Remote Area Medical clinic for people who cannot afford or otherwise lack access to health care will return to the Appalachian Fairgrounds in Gray on the first weekend in November.

RAM representatives and officials from several of its key local partners gathered at the fairgrounds Friday to announce the details.

Brooks Blair, executive director of event host Appalachia Project Access, announced this year’s clinic will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday Nov. 2, 3 and 4, and will include free medical, dental and vision, audiology screenings, hearing aids, glasses and more.

Blair said more than 300 people received free care at last year’s fairgrounds RAM, with a total estimated value of more than $487,000.

Dr. Joe Smitty, a retired pulmonologist and RAM volunteer, said the need for the RAM has never been greater, and is evident in the health status of the people of Northeast Tennessee who will come to receive its services.

Smitty said it was “a joy and a delight” for the local medical professional volunteers who take part in the clinic to meet those needs and to carry on the spirit of volunteerism of RAM founder Stan Brock, who died in August.

Carolyn Sliger, rural programs coordinator for East Tennessee State University, said ETSU has been a part of RAM for more than 20 years, and this year will be bringing more than 200 volunteers from each of the university’s five health sciences: medical, nursing, pharmacy, public health and clinical rehabilitative services.

Remote Area Medical CEO Jeff Eastman said the health care professionals who volunteer their services to the free clinic are all “local people you know, coming together” to meet not only the immediate need of patients but to set them up for better health going forward.

“It’s general health and preventative care,” he said.

Eastman said a third of the patients served by RAM are working adults, and five percent are veterans. “They’re not homeless. They are people who can’t afford to take care of what’s wrong. They are truck drivers who can’t drive anymore because they can’t afford glasses. They are people with small, little, cancers that can be removed and save lives.”

Eastman estimated at least 500 health care professions and support volunteers will take part in the upcoming RAM.

Patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis. Patient parking will be available at the fairgrounds at 100 Lakeview St., Gray. The patient parking area opens at midnight on Friday, Nov. 2 and patient ticket distribution will begin at 3 a.m.

More information about the three-day clinic is available online at RAMUSA.org or may be obtained by contacting RAM’s Knoxville area office at 865-579-1530.

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