On Nov. 7-8, the Appalachian Fairgrounds will host its fourth Remote Area Medical clinic, but it will hardly be business as usual.
As with most things, the clinic that provides free vision, dental and medical care for folks in need, has been changed due to COVID-19. This year the event will take place over two days using an appointment-based model instead of the traditional first-come, first-serve system.
“In this COVID environment, we want everyone to feel comfortable,” said Brooks Blair, executive director of Project Access, the group that is serving as the RAM clinic’s local host group.
The appointment line opened on Monday and anyone in need of vision, dental or medical care can call 865.500.8555 and leave a phone number. A RAM representative will call back to schedule an appointment.
The number of appointments available will depend on the number of volunteers that sign up to work the event this year. Blair encouraged dentists, optometrists and other medical professionals to visit www.RAMUSA.org to sign up to work one or both days.
Last year, over 750 people received care at the Gray Fairgrounds.
“While clinics look different than they used to, the mission remains the same and the need is as great as ever,” said Jeff Eastman, CEO of RAM.
Eastman said RAM went into 2020 preparing to bring more than 70 clinics to communities across the United States. When COVID-19 shut things down in March, he said RAM remained hard at work helping where they could in the fight against the pandemic while also developing telehealth services and finding ways to safely bring back RAM clinics like the one coming to Gray.
“We developed new protocols and disinfecting procedures so we have the safest environment possible to deliver this care,” Eastman said.
For those seeking more immediate care, RAM is offering a free telehealth clinic on Oct. 23-24. Appointments are still available, and folks can visit www.ramusa.org/ram-telehealth/ for more information on how to secure an appointment.