RAM free health clinic helping hundreds of East Tennesseans

RAM free health clinic helping hundreds of East Tennesseans

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In the vision care section, they're giving free eye exams and free prescription glasses made on-site. In the vision care section, they're giving free eye exams and free prescription glasses made on-site.
RAM expects to serve more than 1,000 people over the weekend. RAM expects to serve more than 1,000 people over the weekend.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A free health clinic going on this weekend is providing hundreds of East Tennesseans with the medical care they need, but can't afford.

Put on by Remote Area Medical here in Knoxville, patients receive free health services on a first come, first-served basis.

Held at Chilhowee Park, patients lined up as early as midnight Friday night to make sure they'd get care when the doors opened on Saturday morning.

The clinic is open to anyone who needs dental, vision or general medical care but can't afford to pay.

More than 450 patients showed up Saturday, hoping to be seen by the doctors and nurses who are volunteering their time.

Dentists performed cleanings, fillings and extractions, which are normally expensive procedures that locals like Rebecca Perkins have been putting off.

"I've got two that are broken from calcium deficiencies that have got to be pulled. That would be 200 dollars out of pocket. Right now the way things are, if they didn't have this, then I would just have to deal with that," said Perkins of Knoxville.

Without this event, she'd have to stay in pain.

"I wouldn't be able to do it any other way," said Perkins.

In the vision care section, they're giving free eye exams and free prescription glasses made on-site.

"Sometimes we'll see a small child that's never had a pair of glasses. When they put that pair of glasses on and just smile from ear to ear, it's amazing," said Laura Kirschenmann, volunteer coordinator for Remote Area Medical.

Ernest Hall has needed new glasses for a year, but put it off because his income wouldn't allow it.

"It's been rough. Just decreased little bit by little bit by little bit," said Hall of Rockwood Mountain.

After waiting in line since 2 a.m., he's finally getting those glasses.

"Without this free service, I wouldn't have them. It makes me feel good because I can read my Bible again. That's the biggest thing so I can read it to my kids," said Hall.

Like Hall, all the patients waited hours to be seen, but say that's nothing compared to the years many of them have waited to receive the free medical care they're receiving.

The clinic continues tomorrow.

RAM expects to serve more than 1,000 people over the weekend.

"Come to the door. Expect to wait in line a little bit. Bring a list of any medications that you take, and that's all we need," said Kirschenmann.

Patients can also receive general medical care, like physicals and women's health exams.

The clinic opens Sunday at 6 a.m. in the Jacob Building in Chilhowee Park, located at 3301 E. Magnolia Avenue in Knoxville.

If you'd like to attend, you're encouraged to arrive as early as possible for the best chance of being seen.

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