WISE — This past weekend's Remote Area Medical (RAM) Health Expedition in Wise County probably set another record for the largest such event in the nation in terms of patients served and total value of medical care provided.
Final numbers were still being tabulated on Monday from the three day event that wrapped up on Sunday, but Health Wagon Teresa Gardner on Monday said there was well over 3,000 patients receiving free medical, dental and vision care services.
The 14th annual event at the Wise County Fairgrounds provided a broad range of health care services last year to 2,442 patients. Volunteer health care providers delivered over $1.95 million in total value of services in 2012.
This year, Gardner said, the numbers are even greater.
"We don't have all the final figures yet, but I think when all is said and done we will have served over 3,000 patients and over $2 million in care," she said. "I think this year was one of the most successful events we ever had given that volume of patients. It probably is the most successful event we had."
Over 1,500 volunteers, the bulk of them health care professionals, provided their expertise during this year's RAM, and the range of services is impressive.
Cleanings, fillings, extractions and denture repairs and realignments, and in some cases, free dentures, comprise the dental component of RAM, typically the most sought care services at the events.
Complete dilated eye exams, glaucoma testing, diabetic retinopathy screenings and free prescription eyeglasses comprise the essentials of the free vision services component of RAM.
The medical component features a vast array of services including examinations by specialists if deemed needed, EKG's, osteopathic manipulation, diabetes screenings and workshops, bone density exams, blood work, pulmonary function exams, chest x-rays, PAP smears, mammograms, gynecological specialty exams, breast exams, chiropractice services, skin exams with biopsies and minor surgeries if indicated, colon and prostate cancer screenings, echocardiograms, ultrasounds and much more.
Being the 14th year, The Health Wagon, Knoxville-based RAM and their small army of volunteers have staging what amounts to a major three day outdoor medical center down to an art.
Many of the comments from volunteers over the weekend reflected how well Wise County's RAM operates, Gardner said.
"What we're hearing is how successful it was and how things went off really without a hitch and no major incidents or anything like that. About how well coordinated and planned everything is," she said.
"It was just a fabulous event. At the end of the day over 3,000 patients got needed services so this morning, we just hope that a lot of burden has been relieved. That maybe people who have been in pain a long time have found some relief, and can see better and are doing better whatever their needs may have been when they came to us."
The conclusion of another annual event doesn't mean the end of health care for many patients who sought help at the fairgrounds, she added.
"We are waiting on the results of the medical component right now for (medical followup) referrals and to coordinate care with the Health Wagon," she said.
"There is a very intense followup to get patients into the health system who need that for problems ranging from hypertension to potential cancers to diabetes. Now the real work begins. It's a three day weekend but we know from experience we will have work to do over the next three to eight months where we have to see how the after care hits and get people what they need."