Wise County RAM Clinic begins

WISE, Ky. (WYMT) - Thousands of dollars will be spent this weekend for free health care for folks in Wise County, Virginia. Today was the first day of the fourteenth annual Remote Area Medical Clinic in Wise, where free medical, dental, vision and hearing care are available to folks who can not afford them.

Unlike some other RAM clinics, the RAM clinics in Wise have the creation of dentures and hearing aids (hearing aids are delivered at a later time), as well as women's health services.

James Smith says he has a bad tooth and needed to have it looked at.

"It hurts all the time," said Smith.

He also needs new glasses and says he cannot afford these.

"It's really hard to get insurance out there that will cover dental and eyes," Smith said.

But thanks to the Remote Area Medical Clinic, Smith can get both of these, and a medical checkup for free.

"A lot of the areas surrounding us are medically under served areas and health professional shortage areas, so to bring an influx of medical volunteers in here is very important for the residents," said Dr. Teresa Gardner, an organizer.

Like Edward Keen, who says he finally got dentures after 11 years of waiting.

"I'm very excited. I don't know what to think about it. Really, it's been so long," Keen said.

Some folks say they do not know what they would do if the clinic was not being offered.

"I guess I'd stay at home in pain with my tooth and eventually go blind without my eyesight. there's nothing else I could do," said Smith.

While others know just what they would be doing.

"I probably would have had to wait for a little while until we were able to save up or get my own health insurance," said Jordan Chenault of Wise County, Virginia.

"I probably would have toothache for a quite some time," said Bill Laurie of Russell County, Virginia.

Organizers expect about three thousand people total to attend. They also say the Wise County RAM Clinic has provided between 20 and 30 million dollars worth of health services over the past 14 years, and have served about 70,000 people.

The RAM clinic will also be open Saturday and Sunday starting at 6 a.m. at the Wise County Fairgrounds.

For more information about RAM, visit www.ramusa.org .

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