May 2017: RAM Smyth County

The Smyth County RAM clinic was held at the Mountain Empire Regional Airport during the weekend of May 5, 6, and 7, 2017. The RAM clinic is an opportunity for folks to access vision, dental, and medical care without cost, and this year, 980 people were registered to receive care during the three-day event. A majority of those patients received dental care, including cleanings, fillings, and extractions. A vision exam with eyeglasses is the next priority for most patients, while medical is needed by a smaller percentage of patients. The Smyth County RAM clinic is an annual event that has become an important opportunity for folks in our region with limited access to medical, vision, and dental care.

This was the second year of the Smyth County RAM clinic, and both years there have been questions about the relationship between RAM and the Mel Leaman Free Clinic. RAM Smyth County is a separate organization, but the MLFC is a partner in the annual Smyth County RAM clinics. MLFC staff and volunteers participate in the preparations for the RAM clinic and volunteer during all three days of the event. However, all services provided during the RAM clinic are separate from those services provided by the MLFC. And most importantly, funds donated to RAM Smyth County are used by RAM Smyth County only and do not support the operations of the MLFC.

The MLFC provides a bulk of the medical follow-up after the Smyth County RAM events. The MLFC also works with local dentists to provide dental follow-up. The follow-up activities include contacting patients about lab and procedure results, coordinating patient referrals, seeing patients for follow-up exams, and mailing eyeglasses to patients. Both the Smyth County RAM and the MLFC provide much needed services to those without health insurance; however, the MLFC operates year round and needs continuous support from the community through volunteers and financial contributions.