It’s a good day for Elaina Schlund. She’s getting a new pair of glasses, free of charge.
“I think it’s great,” Schlund said. “It’s something I couldn’t do myself and I’ve had dental work before.”
The services are all thanks to Remote Area Medical, a non-profit group that offers free medical clinics.
“One of the biggest barriers that our patients express to us is the cost of health care, especially with dental and vision care, because a lot of insurance plans don’t cover those services, so a lot of people don’t have anywhere else to go,” Robert Lambert, Media Relations Specialist, said.
This week, RAM is celebrating clinic number 900 in the city they call home.
“It just so happens that our milestone 900th clinic fell right at this time right here in Knoxville, so we’re really glad that we could have this milestone clinic in the place we were founded,” Lambert said.
On the first day of the five-day clinic, RAM treated 218 patients, and the clinic is expecting to serve more than 2,500 patients by the end of the weekend.
“I appreciate them because they’re a help to people who don’t get a lot of income and it helps a lot,” said Dale Weaver, a patient.
The clinic usually offers free vision, dental and medical services. But this time around, they’re offering even more: dermatology, flu shots, and STD testing. All of these services are performed by more than 1,000 volunteers.
“It’s a good feeling,” Marianna Comparoni, RAM volunteer, said. “It makes your heart feel good to know that you’re helping someone get teeth, get glasses, and they can see a different world when they get glasses and they’ve never had them before. It’s just good.”
This week marks one of RAM’s biggest expedition ever, and the East Tennessee community could not be more grateful to see the clinic keep coming back.
“It helps a lot of people,” Schlund said. “I’m real thankful for it.”
The mobile clinic will be at Chilhowee Park’s Jacob Building at 3301 E. Magnolia Avenue in Knoxville until February 4. The patient parking lot will open no later than midnight. Numbered patient admission tickets will be given out beginning at 3 a.m., one ticket per patient. Clinic doors will open at 6 a.m. Patients will be admitted in numerical order by ticket number. A ticket is required for admission and services are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. Due to time constraints, be prepared to choose between dental and vision services. This event is free and open to the public.