Early Friday morning, hundreds of people will line up in the parking lot of a fairground in southwest Virginia, anxious to see a doctor or dentist as soon as possible. Nearby, 240 UVA volunteers will wake up in dorm rooms hundreds of miles from home, eager to provide free medical care.
The event is the annual three-day Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic in Wise, Va., which offers free medical, dental and vision care. The Health Wagon, a nonprofit health care provider in southwest Virginia, organizes the event, and thousands of volunteers from all over Virginia make it happen. UVA provides medical services at the clinic, while volunteers from other organizations provide dental and vision care.
UVA volunteers usually make the six-hour drive from Charlottesville to Wise on Thursday and stay in dorms at UVA’s College at Wise.
The clinic is from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 6 a.m.-noon Sunday. Last year, RAM volunteers treated 2,347 patients during those 30 hours, including almost 1,300 who received medical services from UVA volunteers.
What’s New This Year?
Based on patient feedback, UVA worked with The Health Wagon and the RAM organization to create a medical-only gate for patients who do not want dental or vision care. This will help them get faster treatment.
Also, the Wise County fairground was renovated within the past year, and all patient treatment areas are now air-conditioned. Last year, it was over 90 degrees every day.
Medical Services Available
UVA offers many medical services at RAM, including:
- Primary care/family medicine
- Specialty care, including cardiology and dermatology
- Diabetes counseling and management
- Emergency care
- Women’s health, including gynecology services, breast exams and mammograms
- Plastic surgery
- Smoking cessation counseling
- Pharmacy services
- Tetanus and pneumonia vaccines
- Echocardiograms and ECGs
- High blood pressure management
- Physical therapy
- Blood, urine and bone density tests
If patients need specialty care that’s not at RAM, UVA’s telemedicine team will connect them to a specialist at UVA. Through telemedicine, a doctor in another location uses a video camera, a monitor and an internet connection to examine and talk to a patient.
Do you want to get care at RAM? Get directions and patient information.
Be sure to check back here later this week and next week for more blog posts about RAM.