The Remote Area Medical clinic is returning to the Appalachian Fairgrounds in Gray for two days of free medical, dental and vision care for people across the region in need.
Set for Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 7 and 8, the clinic has been revamped with new protocols for COVID-19 safety, including a by-appointment-only format that will eliminate the overnight camping in parking areas that has been common at past RAM events in the area.
The clinic appointment line will open Monday, Oct. 19. Anyone in need of medical, dental or vision care may call 865-500-8555 and leave their number for a RAM representative to call and schedule their appointment.
Brooks Blair, executive director of Project Access which is serving as the clinic’s local host group, said the new format is designed “to make it easy for everyone to stay safe.”
Patients will be asked to bring a mask to wear during their appointment and everyone will practice social distancing, hand washing, equipment sanitizing and other safety measures throughout the event.
Because of pandemic, the clinic will be relying more heavily on volunteer providers and Blair said more volunteers will be needed to meet what is expected to be a greater need than in previous years.
Medical, dental and optometry care providers as well as general clinic volunteers are needed and anyone who wishes to lend their services is encouraged to visit RAMUSA.org to sign up.
Sara Cox, community liaison for Project Access, said the more providers who take part in the clinic, the more patients the clinic will be able to serve.
Approximately 750 people were served during the last RAM clinic at the fairgrounds for an estimated $450,000 in free health care services provided.
RAM CEO Jeff Eastman said working in partnership with community organizations has allowed the clinic to provide approximately $1.5 million in services in the Tri-Cities area since 2018.
In addition to Project Access, local clinic partners include East Tennessee State University and five of its health related colleges, Ballad Health, the nonprofit Miles for Smiles mobile dental program and others.