It’s been a long weekend for Ringgold resident Dallie Gipson, who arrived at Camp Jordan at 8 p.m. Friday evening and has been there – off and on – ever since. Her motivation for being there: “It hurt whenever I tried to eat or drink anything.”
The long hours she spent sleeping in her car and waiting in line for free dental treatment offered during a two-day Remote Area Medical Clinic really paid off, she said. The cavity in the tooth that has ached for months is gone now, replaced by a filling that allows her to eat without pain. Two more teeth with less serious problems also were repaired, she noted.
While she was being treated, her 12-year-old son – whose brushing and flossing skills leave something to be desired – was seen by different volunteer dentists and dental hygienists.
Mrs. Gipson is far from alone in having health problems she cannot afford to have treated, RAM officials said Sunday afternoon.
All told, preliminary counts show that a total of 931 people walked through the doors of the pop-up clinic seeking medical, dental and/or vision treatment. By Sunday afternoon, almost $500,000 in free treatment and services had been provided.
Forty-eight chairs were set up to handle the 497 patients seeking dental treatment, they noted, and a total of 1,116 teeth were extracted. In addition, dental clinic volunteers put fillings in 298 teeth.
In the vision clinic, 358 patients received new eyeglasses and dozens more were treated for other problems with their eyes.
In the medical clinic, the most common ailments among the 482 people seeking treatment were high blood pressure and diabetes.
Jennifer Yanes-Santana, a one of a half dozen pre-med students from Kennesaw State University in Georgia who drove up Sunday to help at the clinic, said she and her friends were assigned to the clinic’s general support division, providing directions and other assistance needed by would-be patients when they arrived at the site.
Among the people she helped, she said, was a middle-aged man who was having trouble with his eyes and could not communicate with the people treating him because he spoke very little English. Ms. Yanes-Santana, who speaks fluent Spanish, accompanied him through the clinic as he progressed from stage to stage, she said, and was able to help him get the glasses and treatment for irritated eyes which he needed.
Knoxville area resident Roger May – who has worked as RAM’s volunteer coordinator for only about 10 weeks – said this weekend’s clinic at Camp Jordan is the fifth one he has helped with already.
In Hamilton County, he worked closely with Bob Nevil and about 10 other volunteers who have been organizing RAM pop-up clinics in the Hamilton County area since 2012.
So far, Mr. Nevil said, four RAM Clinics have been held in Hamilton County. Planning already is underway for a fifth one, scheduled for Oct. 23-24, 2020, he noted.
This year’s clinic was dedicated to the memory of RAM founder Stan Brock, who died last year, according to Mr. Nevil.
His association with RAM began as a volunteer, he said, “but after working at several clinics around the country, I decided that this was something we needed to have in Hamilton County.”
Mrs. Gipson, the Ringgold dental patient, couldn’t agree more.
The dental work she and her son received this weekend saved the family hundreds of dollars, she said happily. However, she noted, she wasn’t able to get a new pair of glasses she needs to replace the badly scratched ones she now wears.
For that, she said, she’s already planning a trip to McMinnville next July, when RAM is scheduled to hold a clinic in the local high school there.