A nonprofit organization that brings free medical care to underserved communities has announced the establishment of a state office and a permanent presence in Virginia.
“Remote Area Medical” has been offering regular, mobile clinics in Southwest Virginia that have attracted thousands of patients needing care. RAM intends to expand operations—including to other regions of the Commonwealth.
RAM Founder Stan Brock starred in the TV show, Wild Kingdom. He saw a need for health care in remote foreign places where doctors lived weeks away. But Brock was stunned at how many Americans also need care, so he and 84,000 volunteers have brought millions of dollars of free care to what he calls “distressed” U.S. counties.
“When you come into one of these events with a mouth full of terrible teeth, or you’re in pain, whether it’s your bones are in pain or your teeth are in pain, or you can’t see to get a job, for that particular patient that’s helped, it’s a life-changing experience.”
Expanding Medicaid could help many who come, but it does not cover dental and vision care for adults. Ophthalmologist Victoria Weiss said as a result, there’s an urgent need for those services.
“Patients can finally drive safely to work and also work on the computer to pursue schooling or a job. I saw a patient this summer, and his glasses were held together with safety pins, and his glasses were 30 years old.”
With a large donation, RAM has bought 20 more dental chairs, eye exam equipment, and a mobile vehicle that can make up to 400 pairs of glasses per day.
Remote Area Medical plans to deploy the new vehicle in Central Virginia and is seeking donations to expand services elsewhere in the Commonwealth.