Remote Area Medical, better known as RAM, has begun recruiting medical professionals and support staff willing to volunteer for a two day event in Milton this December where free health care will be provided to the community.
“We don’t turn anybody away,” said group spokesperson Audra Fitzgerald. “Our goal is to remove barriers to health care and health care access.”
Stan Brock founded the Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps in 1985 after having spent time much earlier as a transport pilot in British Guiana. The organization’s website states that Brock vowed to bring medical care closer to the people who needed it during a time he was living among the Wapishana Indians. He suffered a horrific injury and found himself 26 days away from the closest medical care.
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“Since RAM was founded, over 196,000 volunteers – composed of professional practitioners, as well as general support staff – have treated more than 900,000 individuals delivering more than $189.5 million worth of free healthcare services,” the organization’s website states.
“At this time RAM conducts between 60 and 70 health care events a year,” Fitzgerald said.
The event in Milton will be held Dec. 2-3 at Milton High School on Stewart Street, but recruitment of volunteers starts well in advance, she said.
“It takes that amount of time to recruit for the local area,” she said.
The pop up clinics run by RAM offer medical, dental and vision care. No qualifying information is required to receive care and no ID is needed, the website said.
Even though health care is available to everyone, Fitzgerald said the RAM team doesn’t typically see people who can afford to obtain healthcare elsewhere. Business at the pop up clinics is always booming with those from underserved areas.
“They start lining up the night before receiving service when we open Saturday morning,” she said.
Remote Area Medical will come to a community only if invited, Fitzgerald said. The group has made Milton one of its annual stops since at least 2016, according to stories found in the Pensacola News Journal archives. That year, it was reported, nearly 500 people lined up on Friday night in hopes of being seen by medical personnel when the clinic opened at 6 am
Fitzgerald was unable to identify the person or organization that had initially requested RAM’s presence in the city. Santa Rosa County Health Department officials contacted Monday were unaware of the December event.
Fitzgerald said this year is RAM’s first return trip to Milton since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At this time, RAM is putting out a call for dentists and dental assistants, oral surgeons, hygienists, ophthalmologists, obstetricians, opticians and vision techs. They’re also looking for physicians, physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, support staff and women’s health professionals.
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Fitzgerald said health care professionals are not the only volunteers needed for the December event. Equally important to the success of the remote care clinic are volunteers willing to do everything from interpreting to event set up and break down. There’s a need for those willing to do overnight parking lot duties as well, or act as guides for patients.
Volunteers can sign up at volunteer.ramusa.org. Fitzgerald said he wasn’t sure of an exact number required to fill all the available spots at the Milton site, but notification would be provided when a particular volunteer position had reached its quota.
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Milton to get free medical care: RAM volunteers needed