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Wise County RAM patient numbers reflect sour economy

July 21st, 2014 11:16 pm by Stephen Igo

Wise County RAM patient numbers reflect sour economy

A dental patient receives treatment at last weekend's RAM clinic in Wise. Stephen Igo photo.

WISE — Preliminary numbers of people seeking free health-care services at this past weekend's health expedition in Wise County reflect an increase in patients over previous years.

The three-day Remote Area Medical (RAM) event at the Wise County fairgrounds was an exhausting crush of patients start to finish, from Friday through Sunday, Southwest Virginia Health Wagon Executive Director Teresa Gardner said Monday.

A sour regional economy, largely a result of the region's coal industry taking a big hit in recent years, is most likely the culprit in the patient surge, Gardner said.

"From our preliminary numbers that we're looking at, we have seen more patients than what we had even seen last year, and in a way, for us it wasn't totally unexpected. It's kind of what we expected because of the decline in the economy," she said.

Inclement weather, particularly on Friday and Saturday, was no deterrence to turnout, Gardner added.

"Even though it was still raining on Saturday, it was still a good day (in patient turnout) because people came out even in the rain storms we had. People evidently braved the weather and that shows how desperate people are for health care in this country."

Preliminary totals provided by The Health Wagon for 2014 Wise County RAM show 2,517 registered patients, with 2,393 adults and 124 children. The preliminary figures show 1,148 medical exams, 1,319 dental treatments/exams, 922 vision exams, and 3,389 patient encounters.

Those numbers are preliminary as records continue to be collected, assessed and collated into appropriate categories. Gardner said more definitive numbers may not be available before Wednesday at the earliest.

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