Remote Access Medical hosted the first day of its fifth annual clinic in Gray on Friday, where dozens of dentists, dental hygienists, optometrists and ophthalmologists, among other healthcare professionals and volunteers donated their time to provide free health care to underserved and uninsured people in Northeast Tennessee. 

"Access to health care has always been a problem, and it's not really gotten any better because of COVID," said Audra Fitzgerald, a RAM Clinic manager. "If anything, it's made it harder for people to receive the health care they so desperately need." 

The clinic runs for three days, ending on Sunday. While all services are free to patients, they are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. No ID is required for care. 

Services available include dental cleanings, dental fillings, dental extractions, dental x-rays, eye exams, glaucoma testing, eyeglass prescriptions, eyeglasses made on-site, free flu shots, evaluation and treatment of minor lesions, skin cancer evaluations, and steroid injections for arthritic hand and wrist joints, women's health exams, including Pap smears, audiology, chest x-rays, mental health services, COVID-19 vaccines and general medical exams.

The annual clinic is hosted at the Appalachian Fairgrounds, 100 Lakeview Street, Gray. While the patient parking lot will remain open throughout the event, clinic doors will not open until 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Those seeking services are encouraged to arrive as early as possible, and bring their own food, water, medicines and clothing. Bathrooms are provided.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all patients will be required to wear a face mask and will be screened and undergo a rapid COVID-19 test prior to entry. Guests, family members and pets are not allowed to enter the buildings. 

Fitzgerald said the clinic is always in need of volunteers, including medical professionals and general volunteers who can be trained on site to do various tasks.