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Free health clinic returns to Gray

Robert Houk • Oct 8, 2019 at 9:57 PM

Remote Area Medical will bring its three-day mobile health care clinic to the Appalachian Fairgrounds in Gray on Nov. 1.

This is the third year for the free health, dental and vision clinic, which will wrap up on Nov. 3. The RAM — in collaboration with Appalachian Mountain Access — will set up at the fairgrounds, 100 Lakeview St.

All services are provided at no charge to participants, and no identification is required to be seen.

Organizers say most medical providers have been lined up for the event, but they are still seeking volunteer professionals to provide dental and vision services. Angie John, media relations coordinator for RAM, said Tuesday the free clinic served 779 patients in Gray last year. 

“The more providers we sign up, the more patients we can see,” John said.

RAM has seen more than 1,600 patients at the fairgrounds since 2017, delivering health care valued at $1,043,996.

Those wanting to learn more about the RAM, or to volunteer as a provider should go online at RAMUSA.org, or call RAM’s Knoxville area office at 865-579-1530.

Services provided at the RAM include dental cleanings, dental fillings, tooth extractions, dental X-rays, eye exams, glaucoma testing, eyeglass prescriptions, eyeglasses made on-site, women's health exams and general medical exams.

John said audiology services, mammograms, lung X-rays and flu shots will also be available at the clinic this year.

Parking for the clinic will open at 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 1, and ticket distribution will begin at 3 a.m. Care will begin when gates open at 6 a.m. John said patients will be seen “first-come, first-served” based on their ticket numbers.

The same ticketing process will be repeated on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3. RAM notes that in some situations, such as bad weather, volunteer cancellations or other circumstances outside of its control, ticketing may begin earlier than 3 a.m.

John encourages everyone who needs services, particularly dental care, to come as early as possible.

RAM officials issued a news release this week citing U.S. Census data that shows the poverty rate in Washington County was 14.9% in 2018, which exceeds the national average of 11.8%. RAM also noted that more than one out of every 10 people under the age of 65 lacks health insurance coverage. 

The non-profit organization was founded in 1985. RAM now has more than 135,000 volunteers — including licensed dental, vision and medical professionals — who have treated more than 785,000 individuals across the United States, as well as Haiti and the Philippines.

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