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Hundreds line up for free medical care at Wise RAM

By Stephanie Santostasi, ssantostasi@wcyb.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 09:54:33 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 18 2014 09:27:35 PM CDT

In southwest Virginia people were lining up for free medical care Friday, and some were even in place two days in advance.

WISE, Va. -

In southwest Virginia people were lining up for free medical care Friday, and some were even in place two days in advance.

Hundreds of people had already been through the doors as of 6 a.m. Friday at the free 15th annual Remote Area Medical clinic in Wise County looking for medical, dental and vision care.

"It's very important that I get my health taken care of," says Benjamin Cox.

This is Cox's second year to show up at RAM. News 5 asked him what it meant to receive free care on Friday. "It's very important to me. I have Type 1 diabetes and some other health problems," adds Cox.

He's picking up insulin for the next six months because he can't afford it.

In the parking lot we saw license tags from Washington, D.C., Maryland, Illinois, and as far away as Michigan.

In one part of the clinic, major dental procedures were being performed. "I pre-registered yesterday and I came back at 8 o'clock this morning," says Jeremy Carrera from Appalachia.

He signed up for several tooth extractions, which can be costly on a low income. "You can't even put it in words. I mean, you come here, you stand and wait. It's raining and you see everyone here. It's just a good thing," says Carrera.

And a good experience for people who need help. "[The volunteers are] nice, courteous, and, you know, they don't have to [do this]. I think it's a good thing that they do," adds Carrera.

The founder of RAM, Stan Brock, tells News 5 he began this mission in the Amazon and he knew this idea would be successful here in America. He says there's a problem with the program here in the U.S. in that not many doctors are allowed to cross state lines to provide free care.

Brock says the U.S. needs to change the law, allowing volunteers to go anywhere to provide free care without costing taxpayers or the government. "We really need to find a solution to this problem here in America so that Remote Area Medical can focus on places like the Amazon and Haiti instead of being here in the world's richest country," he said.

The RAM event will go until as late as 6 p.m. Friday and begin again Saturday around 6 a.m.