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Free health care clinic hits capacity

August 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The free health care clinic at the Forum in Inglewood has hit capacity. If you don't already have a wristband, you won't be let in.Officials handed out 1,800 wristbands on Thursday. Demand has been so great that people are now being turned away.

The free health care clinic is being staged by the Remote Area Medical Foundation. They normally hold clinics in remote parts of the U.S. and the world.

RAM founder Stan Brock said he started the wristband system because authorities were concerned about traffic congestion and public safety.

Operators of the clinic say they'd like to accommodate everyone in need, but they've already signed up everyone they can handle through next Tuesday.

Brock said if they can fit in people who do not have wristbands, they will.

"I would not advise people to just come out here and wait all night in that expectation," he said.

But the possibility of free dental care, eye care and other medical examinations is still drawing people to the forum.

"They said that they gave out all their numbers, but I could sit out here, and perhaps some people wouldn't show up, and that maybe I could be seen, and I'm hoping that I can," said local resident Richard Roberts.

About 1,500 people turned out on the first day, and there weren't enough health care professionals on hand to see them, so they've been trying to play catch-up every since.

Volunteer doctors, dentists, nurses and technicians are treating needy, unemployed and uninsured people.

"It means a whole lot, especially when you're unemployed, not receiving any kind of unemployment, no insurance," said one woman.

Some people have come to the Forum several days in a row and waited long hours to be seen, but most are just grateful to get the care.

"The first day was to get a number, the second day was to wait in line, third day's inside, so hopefully today will be the day I get my glasses," said Rocky Kitchen, who was waiting for an eye exam.

Officials say by the time the clinic ends next Tuesday, they will have treated about 8,000 people.

Clinic operators say they could still use more volunteers, so any medical professionals with time are urged to go to the Forum.

Partners for Healthy Kids Mobile Medical Van also visits local schools in San Pedro, Wilmington, Lawndale and Gardena to offer free medical care for children. If you have any questions, you may call your child's school nurse, or Partners for Healthy Kids at (310) 514-5466.

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