I’ll admit it, I’ve been talking about the Remote Area Medical organization for a couple weeks now. They were coming to LA for their longest gig thus far (eight days) to service the under and uninsured. Their goal was to serve 20,000 or so.
We showed up for our shift on Saturday and there were lines everywhere. In fact, our job wound up being line control in one of the vision services. There wasn’t all too much organization and we were told to just ask around and see where we might be needed.
I’m not a fan of dentists, so rows and rows of dental procedures (and the sound of drills) was NOT my thing so we walked right on by. Someone suggested we head over to vision, so we ended up in Vision II (first, basic exam was over, now onto the prescription exam).
We spent the majority of our time there working the end of the line – the hubs took the middle and I took the end. It was a pretty slow moving process since around lunch (when we arrived) there were only 2-3 eye doctors working. Eventually, things picked back up again and there were about 6-8 or so available. Even so, not everyone got seen and a good chunk of my “end” people were sent home without care, told to come back on Sunday.
Had I known they needed more medical, dental and vision doctors, I would have picked up the phone book and started calling. I remember what it’s like to be broke or barely making ends meet (in my case, in college) and being in serious need for medical care. And since I’m not a fan of the dentist, you better believe I put that one off as long as possible. So I get it.
Free services, even if it takes all day – hell, for some it took 2-3 days – is worth it…if you can get it. I’m looking forward to my next shift on Tuesday (RAM’s last day). I’m sure it will be gut wrenching knowing we’re turning people away and that there isn’t a come back tomorrow for them. But I also know it’s doing a lot of good.
Check out the MSNBC video below for some scenes from the event those first couple of days…