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Fri Aug 23, 2013, 12:55 AM

Thousands show for free Medical care ....in Virginia

s 5:30 a.m. on a summer morning, and in the pre-dawn darkness a man, carved walking stick in hand, knapsack on his back, arrives at the Wise County, Va., fairgrounds.

Robert Ellis has walked 15 miles, through the night, to get here. But he isn't here for a summertime fair.

"I really need my teeth fixed. They are really bad. And my hearing," Ellis says. "I don't know which one's worse, my hearing or my teeth."

For this weekend, the fairgrounds have been turned into a one-stop-shopping, outdoor medical clinic. Remote Area Medical has arrived for its annual visit to Wise, bringing free dental, eye and medical care to this remote southwest corner of Virginia.

Remote Area Medical in Action
Ely Brown/ABC
Remote Area Medical in Action

"I didn't have enough gas to put in my truck to get here, so I told the old lady I would just walk," Ellis said. "I got up at 12:30 this morning, got ready and started walking."

Watch the full story on "Nightline" tonight at 12:35 a.m. ET

Ellis joins some 2,500 other people who over the course of three days line up in the wee hours of the morning in the hopes of getting free medical care. Many want their teeth checked or even pulled, others need their eyes examined, but some, like Sheila Johnson, are also looking for specialized medical care.

"I have a lot of trouble with my lungs right now and I need to see a pulmonary specialist, so this was my only option," she said.

Stan Brock started Remote Area Medical in 1985 after years of working deep in the Amazon, where health care was 26 days away by foot.

"They might as well be on the moon for the opportunity that they have to get the care that they need," Brock says of the isolated community where he once lived and worked.

Brock began bringing health care to remote corners of the world such as Haiti, Africa, India and Guyana, but after setting up his headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., he quickly realized that pockets of the United States were severely underserved and filled with people who couldn't afford health care.

"You've got 40 or 50 million people that are in this category that don't have insurance and can't get the care that they need or they can't afford it," Brock said.

The RAM event in Wise is now one of the largest "expeditions" as Brock calls his clinics. He's held more than 700 around the world, helping more than 550,000 patients in this country alone.

"It's always an amazing sight, isn't it? That here in America at 5 o'clock in the morning, with rain threatening, there are 1,500 people out there," Brock said, standing by the entrance gate overlooking the crowd on the first morning. "It's sort of the one time opportunity that they know they can afford to get the care that they need. ... It's a pretty sad sight."

Teresa Gardner was born and raised in Wise and now runs the local free clinic, The Health Wagon.

"The economy here has hit a downturn. We've had a lot of mining layoffs, which is really the only industry here," Gardner said. "It's just incredible the desperation that people have for health care."

Gardner first invited Stan Brock and RAM to Wise 14 years ago and helps organize the 1,400 dentists, eye specialists, doctors and volunteers who all donate their time and expertise. Approximately 80 dental chairs are fully manned, as well as 16 eye examination stations.

* Iam watching this now. This is sad .Men women and children standing on line about 2500 of them before 5am in the morning rain threatening. Many weren't seen that day and waited 24 hours came back the next day. The next day over 1400 more showed up. They profiled many with some serious medical problems. Who didn't know they had serious ailments.*

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Reply Thousands show for free Medical care ....in Virginia (Original post)
SummerSnow Aug 2013 OP
peacebird Aug 2013 #1
johnnyreb Aug 2013 #2
TheMastersNemesis Aug 2013 #3
delrem Aug 2013 #5
busterbrown Aug 2013 #6
delrem Aug 2013 #4

Response to SummerSnow (Original post)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 12:58 AM

1. Depressing that our country needs this, but glad it is available....

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Response to SummerSnow (Original post)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 01:24 AM

2. 'Cawz we love freedom!

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Response to SummerSnow (Original post)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 01:24 AM

3. How Many Of These People Don't Want Obamacare or Socialized Medicine?.

 

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Response to TheMastersNemesis (Reply #3)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 02:31 AM

5. none?

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Response to TheMastersNemesis (Reply #3)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 03:44 AM

6. depends how you ask the question..

You know.. “Do you feel Obamacare would be good for the nation right now?”

Shit, at least 3/4 would say no..If they were white and over 50.

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Response to SummerSnow (Original post)

Fri Aug 23, 2013, 02:30 AM

4. A single payer gov't guaranteed coverage of all citizens is the only answer.

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