IF YOPU GO
What: Remote Area Medical — free dental, vision and medical health care clinic
When: Event starts Saturday at 6 a.m. Event ends Sunday at 2 p.m.
Where: Walker Valley High School, Entry tickets passed out Saturday at 3 a.m.
750 Lauderdale Memorial Highway
Cleveland, TN 37312
More: Bring and take regular medications. For more information, visit Remote Area Medical online at ramusa.org.
Remote Area Medical
2200 Stock Creek Blvd.
Rockford, TN 37853
CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Remote Area Medical returns to Bradley County this weekend to provide free dental, vision and other health care services at Walker Valley High School.
Volunteers will give out entry numbers at 3 a.m. Saturday, according to the RAM online schedule. The free event, which is first come, first served, begins at 6 a.m. and lasts until 2 p.m. Sunday.
Organizers urge patients to expect long waits and to bring and take their regular medications.
The event will have 40 to 50 dental clinics, about a dozen vision lanes and an on-site lens-crafting unit, said Stan Brock, a wildlife conservationist who founded RAM in 1985 and serves as its president.
"One thing that is consistent at the RAM events is that nearly 70 percent of the patients are seeking relief from dental pain," Brock said. "However, while they are here, we also encourage them to take advantage of other types of medical services."
Doctors screen for diabetes, hypertension and other "serious health events," Brock said.
Volunteer medical professionals from as far away as New York and California, who pay for their own airfare and lodging, will participate in the event, he said.
Brock credits the success of the organization's efforts to the "amazing volunteers" and the assistance and contributions of local host communities.
The Bradley County Sheriff's Office will provide nine deputies to serve as guides and security for the event, Sheriff Eric Watson said.
"It's a way for our department to give back to a service that provides much-needed help to our community," Watson said.
Although Brock founded RAM with the intent of providing health care relief to Third World countries, the nonprofit organization has increasingly focused its mission — "addressing the needless pain and suffering caused by the lack of health care in impoverished, underserved, and isolated areas" — within the United States.
RAM has conducted 769 events, and 90 percent of them are inside the United States, Brock said.
He said the organization has been very fortunate in Tennessee, which allows medical practitioners from out-of-state to serve at RAM events.
He met with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., at an Ooltewah RAM event last September to discuss overcoming laws in other states that prevent out-of-state doctors and dentists from serving at the organization's free health care clinics.
Last month, Corker's office organized a roundtable discussion for congressional staff on the challenges facing volunteer health providers when they cross state lines to volunteer at free health clinics, said Micah Johnson, the senator's press secretary, in an email.
"I am thankful for people like Stan Brock who devote their lives to helping people in need, and I hope other states will follow Tennessee's lead and pass legislation that will allow RAM to operate effectively across the country and avoid roadblocks that prevent them from helping even more Americans," Corker said.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.