An eastern Kentucky man is chosen to help organize the largest free medical clinic in the country. Pike County Dentist Bill Collins returned from a trip to Los Angeles last week and says the need for this kind of care across America is simply overwhelming.
Dr. Bill Collins says the turn out was more than anyone expected at the Remote Area Medical Clinic, known as RAM, in California, but he says RAM should not be the answer.
More than 6,300 people received care during the eight day clinic is Los Angeles earlier this month, but organizers wanted to see more.
"We had hoped to see 8,000 by the time the clinic was over, and we quickly realized that wasn't going to be a reality," says Dr. Collins.
Stan Brock, who runs RAM clinics around the world, chose Dr. Collins because of his work with Pike County's clinics over the past two years. "We were moving a lot of patients through very quickly. And that's what he was impressed with," says Collins.
He says the problems were no different from clinics across Appalachia. "Someone in California said 'Well we don't have the problems that they have.' Well yes they do, if not they wouldn't have done 2,200 extractions in the eight days."
Though so many people were served with free dental, eye and medical care, thousands more were turned away. "I'd like to help everybody. It just breaks my heart to see all of these people without insurance or if they've got insurance they cannot meet the deductible or the co-pay and it's just heartbreaking." says Pam Collins. Pam, Dr. Collins' wife, and their 13 year old daughter Jaymie volunteered all eight days in California.
"It's taking care of a lot of people that's in immediate need, and that's what our goal is. We don't want to fix the problem, we just want to take care of people that's in dyer need at this point," says Dr. Collins. He says some kind of health care reform should be passed so clinics like this are no longer needed in America.
Doctor Collins along with his wife and 13 year old daughter all say the trip to California was extremely exhausting after working 18 hour days, but they plan to continue volunteering with RAM.