RAM CEO Jeff Eastman said the clinic is open to anyone in need with no income eligibility or other pre-qualification required. “The only question we ask is ‘Where does it hurt?’ ” he said.
By the end of the day on Friday, he projected the clinic would have served 200 to 300 patients on its way to the 600 or 700 expected over the course of the weekend, including one Eastman talked who had hitchhiked a ride here from Chattanooga.
“This is the third or fourth year in Gray,” Eastman said before going on to explain the many reasons. “There is a fantastic group here we can partner with ETSU, the Quillen College of Medicine, ETSU Audiology, Ballad Health, the (Central Appalachia) Health Wagon, Appalachian Access. All these great teams come together here to make a difference.”
For free eye exams and eyeglasses made onsite, hearing aids, dental care and all manner of medical care that would begin again Saturday morning, Eastman said people would start lining up again Friday evening. And like the night before, the patient parking lot would open at midnight and at 3 a.m. RAM volunteers would begin handing out patient numbers.
Or, for those in need of audiology or any kind of medical care on Saturday Eastman said patients may come at 8 a.m. with no wait time.
Ron Taylor from Elizabethton was among those who came Thursday night and slept over in the parking lot in order to help a friend who was in serious need of a tooth extraction.
By 1 p.m., the broken tooth that had had her in pain for the past six months was gone and the pair was picking up a large box of produce from the Second Harvest Food Bank Mobile Pantry as they waited for the mini-bus that would ferry them back to the parking area.
“It’s a wonderful program. It really is,” Taylor said.
More information about RAM, including how to volunteer is available online at RAMUSA.org.