Organizers are seeking more volunteers to provide dental and vision services for the three-day Remote Area Medical clinic in May at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The RAM® clinic, which helps meet the needs of thousands of medically underserved patients in the region, will be held May 3-5. Now in its third year, the event relies on volunteers to serve patients throughout the weekend.
One of the more critical needs for this year's clinic is for additional dental and vision professionals.
Dentists are particularly important in making the clinic successful, as dental care is the service in greatest demand at the clinic. Of the nearly 1,600 people receiving care at the 2012 Bristol event, 95 percent sought dental care, resulting in 2,107 tooth extractions, 376 fillings and 128 cleanings.
"The number of patients we can serve is directly in proportion to the number of volunteer dentists we have," said Helen Scott, executive director of Healing Hands Health Center in Bristol and chairwoman of the community host group for the Tri-Cities RAM clinic. "To date, we have only 24 dental chairs staffed for the clinic. Last year we had 32, but we could run as many as 75 chairs if we had the dentists to staff them. Every year, we turn away patients needing dental care; the more volunteer dentists we have, the fewer patients we will have to turn away."
Vision was the second most popular service at the 2012 clinic, with patients receiving 587 pairs of glasses, nearly all of which were made at the track in RAM's mobile vision unit.
With such a high level of usage, organizers of this year's clinic are urging professionals who have not pledged to participate to embrace this opportunity to serve others in need.
"The RAM clinic has received tremendous support from dental and vision providers since it began in 2010," said Scott. "The need remains great for these two services, and we need more professionals in these areas to respond by volunteering in this worthwhile endeavor. This is a tremendous opportunity to enhance our region's quality of life and health status by providing the care people need that will ultimately improve their lives."
To volunteer for the clinic or obtain more information, please visit www.ramusa.org or call Scott at 423-360-5192.