The prospect of long lines didn’t deter area residents from the opportunity to get badly needed medical, dental and vision care last weekend. The gym and commons area of Heritage High School were packed with patients as Remote Area Medical personnel and volunteers served underprivileged residents during a two-day clinic.
Ron Brewer, state director for Remote Area Medical, said personnel began setting up 10 a.m. on Friday, March 19. They opened the parking lot at the school at midnight, and Tennessee State Guard personnel began handing out numbers at 3:30 a.m. to people standing in line. The services are granted on a first come, first served basis.
“The Tennessee State Guard provides security, opens the gate and distributes the tickets,” Major Scott Hawk said. “We support RAM, and we have to maintain order. Sometimes people are disappointed, but I’ve been doing this for over a year, and it’s very rewarding.”
Brewer thanked the Fooothills, Maryville and Alcoa Kiwanis clubs for organizing the event. “Foothills, Alcoa and Maryville Kiwanis have been special, and we have to give them credit,” Brewer said.
Brewer said 720 tickets were handed, but they stopped taking people at 652 because they filled up. “We had 450 vision, 250 dental and 123 general practice,” he said. “It was a smooth process.There were no hiccups,” he said.
The last time RAM was in Blount County they treated 622 in two days in July. “We broke that record,” he said.
Brewer said this was remote clinic number 597 for RAM. “The needs may be different, but the people are the same,” he said. “There are different faces but they all come with the same need.”