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Free Healthcare Comes to Appalachia on Wheels

Each year the Remote Area Medical clinic provides free healthcare services to residents of Appalachia's coal mining counties, but people from as far as Indiana travel there for care. This region of the Eastern US is one of the nation's most impoverished, and this clinic-on-wheels wants to help the under- and uninsured.

Some of the 2,500 patients spend the night in their cars, hoping to see one of the 1,400 volunteer medical personnel. The free two-and-a-half day clinic is the largest of its kind in the US, and mostly provides vision and dental services.

The Remote Area Medical clinic sets up in Wise, VA. About 20 percent of Wise County's population are families living below the poverty level, making less than $21,200 per year. What more can be be done to provide regular care for the nation's disadvantaged so they don't have to wait overnight and sleep in their cars?


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Roarman Roarman 7 years
There are people in every corner of this country who make $21,200 or less per year. Being in a "ghost town" is not the only reason incomes are that low. Healthcare should be a basic right, not a privelege, we wouldn't need roaming clinincs if every citizen of this country had access to preventative medical care. Healthcare should not be a business, but it is.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
I actually went to school with alot of poor rural kids, who came to school with ALLIGATOR bites, gunshot wounds, ringworm, dressed in sheets for skirts and who didnt know what a period was (they thought they were bleeding to death) there was a county health department an hour and a half away but they didnt want to go because they were either to scared of strangers touching them (or judging them) or because they had no vehicles to get there.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
Select the willing in these areas pay for their education in nursing, physician assisting, medical administration, dental assisting, and phlebotomy. Open permanent clinics and have senior Dr. & D.D.S. on a rotating visitation schedule. This would save on the operating costs of using the mobile units and having established professionals permanently based would not only make quality of life better but also serve as an inspiration to the youth there as well.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 7 years
Select the willing in these areas pay for their education in nursing, physician assisting, medical administration, dental assisting, and phlebotomy. Open permanent clinics and have senior Dr. & D.D.S. on a rotating visitation schedule. This would save on the operating costs of using the mobile units and having established professionals permanently based would not only make quality of life better but also serve as an inspiration to the youth there as well.
valancyjane valancyjane 7 years
Rural poverty like this just breaks my heart. It's ignored so often -- it's a lot of "out of sight, out of mind," so there aren't as many resources available, and you aren't likely to know about the ones that do exist. Rory Kennedy's documentary "American Hollow" is about a family in these circumstances. From Kentucky, I think. Beautiful and gut-wrenching.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
business in the front, party around the back.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
business in the front, party around the back.
UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
I didn't mean to be offensive, so I do apologize. I got from the article that this has been going on for years, and knowing the work that my church does to help people relocate and get jobs in various communities, why isn't there more outreach to this area? I don't believe it is the government's responsibility to bail out businesses, or their employees. When counties like Wise become ghost towns, and the local employers can't find anyone to work for them, they'll have to offer more competitve wages. When people feel they are stuck, then the employer doesn't feel the need to make changes.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I do think that permanent clinics should be set up. Of course, a lot of people would still experience problems because they would live far away from the permanent clinics.
stephley stephley 7 years
The federal minimum wage is $6.55 an hour, jobs are being cut every day, the median pay for women dropping, the cost of everything rising - how can anyone suggest that people are living on $21,000 out of choice? The government bails out companies, and very grudging dribbles help to individuals - those pictures are from one of the richest countries in the world.
LadyAngel89 LadyAngel89 7 years
I live very close to Wise, and as a matter of fact... RAM have been doing free clinics for a long while now, and they have been doing clinics in KY, VA, and TN. Wise is not the only place they've been. We live in places where we can only make around 21,000 a year (which is just a little less than what I make, which is "good pay" for this area) because how the heck are we supposed to move when we can't make enough money to afford the costs of relocating? That's my big problem right now I commute one hour to work every day. So it's certainly not always a "choice". There are plenty of hardworking people here that barely make ends meet and work their whole lives trying to get out.
UnDave35 UnDave35 7 years
I like the comment, "...but some people come from as far as Indiana. Indiana is 3 hours away, and less if you drive really fast. I do get the point though. I just don't understand why people would choose to live in somewhere where they can only make 21,000/year.
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