BRISTOL, Tenn. – Organizers for the three-day Remote Area Medical clinic in May at Bristol Motor Speedway are seeking more volunteers to provide dental and vision services to attendees.
The RAM clinic, which is designed to meet the needs of thousands of medically underserved patients in the Tri-Cities region, will be held May 3-5.
Now in its third year, the event relies on volunteers to serve patients throughout the weekend.
Organizers said on of the more critical needs for this year’s clinic is for additional dental and vision professionals.
Dentists are particularly important, organizers said, because 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.
Healing Hands Health Center - Bristol Executive Director Helen Scott, who also serves as chairwoman of the community host group for the Tri-Cities RAM clinic, said the number of volunteers directly impacts the amount of services that can be rendered at the clinic.
“The number of patients we can serve is directly in proportion to the number of volunteer dentists we have,” Scott said. “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.
Due to the high level of need for those services, organizers of the 2013 clinic are urging professionals who have not pledged to participate to take the opportunity to assist those who need it.
“The RAM clinic has received tremendous support from dental and vision providers since it began in 2010,” Scott said. “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 to obtain more information, please visit www.ramusa.org or call Scott at 423-360-5192.