Southern Virginia University in conjunction with Remote Area Medical hosted a free health clinic last weekend that provided needed medical, dental and vision care for more than 600 patients.
A total of about 250 volunteers assisted with the clinic including doctors, dentists and other medical professionals, Southern Virginia faculty, staff and students, and RAM personnel.
Stan Brock, who founded RAM in 1985, attended the clinic in Buena Vista, Va. He started the organization to bring needed medical resources to remote areas worldwide.
“I lived in a remote part of the Amazon and the closest doctor was 26 days away. It seemed like a good idea to bring the doctors closer,” Brock said. “We started to get requests to hold clinics in America in 1995. This one is number 661 that we’ve held worldwide.”
Many patients lined up beginning at 11 p.m. the evening before, and others arrived as early as 3 a.m. the day of the clinic.
“I’m impressed by how long these people are willing to stand in line to get care,” said Tatiana Chavarria, a senior at the university who was one of around 100 Southern Virginia students to volunteer at the clinic. “I’m so happy afterward to see them get that care.”
The clinic provided approximately 1200 treatments or services to patients during the clinic. Dental services included cleanings, fillings and extractions; medical services included routine medical screenings, women’s health exams and bone density scans; and vision care included basic screenings, refracting and eye exams. Additionally, some patients received massage therapy.
Many patients received glasses made on site for their prescription.
Two RAM volunteers, Thom Dandridge and Judy Dandridge, drove and supervised the vehicle that contained the equipment—including about 10,000 donated and bought lenses as well as a huge selection of frames—to make glasses for patients. They said that they typically make 250 to 300 pairs of glasses per day at each RAM clinic—their record being 337 pairs in 14 hours.
Patients from the local community and more remote areas appreciated receiving health care that they otherwise would not be able to afford.
“I lost my glasses and I couldn’t afford new ones,” said Elenar Ouellette from Irish Creek, Va. “They’re doing a great service to the community.”
Southern Virginia students were grateful for the opportunity to serve members of the surrounding communities.
“There’s so much you can do for other people,” said Jayna Jackson, a junior at Southern Virginia who volunteered at the clinic. “It makes me want to work harder so I can be a dentist at this clinic someday. One lady getting dental care was very scared. She just needed a hand to hold and afterward she just said, ‘Thank you so much.’ It’s nice to see so many people get aid, and to help them out is such a great feeling.”
In addition to professionals from the local community—including Dr. Richard G. Whitehead, the university’s acting president—many medical professionals and RAM volunteers traveled long distances to participate in the clinic. Some had to fly home on Sunday evening or Monday to return to their regular practices.
“I think the volunteers get more out of giving the service than the people getting it,” said Jean Jolley, who has volunteered with RAM for 15 years. “I always say no act of love ever goes unnoticed. You see people of all ages giving a lot of love and getting a lot of love—people who really need it.”