RAM Clinic giving free health services to patients

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A RAM Clinic is providing free health care to those in need. 

The Remote Area Medical Clinic (RAM) is being held at the Mountain Empire Airport in Smyth County, VA.

The RAM program provides free health care for anyone needing medical services. 

April Jackson said she saves thousands of dollars a year coming to the RAM Clinics. She has driven three hours before for her family to receive care from the volunteers. 

“We come because we don’t have insurance right now and we decided to take advantage of all the free perks today. We’re just from Chilhowie, VA. Just about 20 miles down the road and it took us about 25 minutes to get here,” said Jackson.

Both she and her husband received glasses from the clinic. Her husband also receiving dental services. 

All services were free to her family. Jackson laughing, saying, it only cost her ten dollars in gas to come to the clinic. 

“The lines were short. We were in and out most places we went,” she said.

Dental care, vision care, and a variety of medical needs are all free through RAM. 

Harry Howe is the Host Community Coordinator for Rural Retreat Virginia’s RAM Clinic. He said that anyone can receive services, but to come early because spots fill up fast. 

“It’s on a first come first serve basis. So really, everybody’s eligible that comes and shows up. So, they don’t ask questions related to income or insurance,” said Howe.

Howe helped to start the RAM Clinic coming to Rural Retreat, VA four years ago. 

“I worked with the emergency services and also the housing ministry and through that, I realized a lot of folks had a need in this area,” he said.

Volunteers across the country work the event. Students from Western Carolina University drove three hours to volunteer. 

Siobhan McKone was one of those students from WCU saying, 

“It’s an amazing opportunity. I think most people go into the medical field because they want to help people. Nursing students, med students, want to come and volunteer for a place like this to try to reach populations that just don’t have the access that some of us are lucky to have. Not everyone has the same access to preventative care, and that can be so crucial to maintaining health and wellness throughout your life.”

April Jackson hopes that next year she can give back to the program that has given so much to her. 

“Next year my goal is to volunteer and pay it forward and give back to the community,” she said. 

Tomorrow is the last day in Smyth County for the RAM Clinic. Volunteers say people can come between 6 AM and 2 PM, though it is recommended to come early because spots fill up fast. 

The Host Community Coordinator for Rural Retreat Virginia’s RAM Clinic is already planning the next clinic set for next year. 

There will be another RAM Clinic in Southwest Virginia next month in Wise County at the fairgrounds June 28th through the 30th. 

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