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Thousands line up for free health care access

April 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The offer of free medical, dental and vision care offer drew thousands to the L.A. Sports Arena Sunday.Many people even waited in line overnight to ensure that they would get the wristband that would give them access to the fair's free treatments.

Remote Area Medical, a Tennessee-based nonprofit group, is putting on the free health care clinic, and they hope to treat 8,400 patients over the next week. Nearly 5,600 wristbands were handed out Sunday, which likely means that there is still space for more people to be treated.

The clinic will provide various health care to anyone who needs it, and all of the care is provided by volunteers who are donating their time to help the community. No proof of income or insurance is required.

Officials say that most of the people who turned out are employed, but they just can't afford health insurance.

"These are not the homeless and the unemployed. Sure, they're there too, but it's the middle class Americans and all those people who simply cannot afford to go to the dentist or to go to the eye doctor," said Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical.

"I was struck by a truck and I don't have dental insurance. Even if I eat noodles, I choke on it because I can't chew properly, so I'm very thankful," said patient Flora Jones.

"I broke my foot," said patient Dexter Butler, who snagged a wristband Sunday. "I had to cut Kaiser loose. No more physical therapy, no more anything. So, I need to get my health taken care of."

"I'm an actress. I have no health care," said patient Skye noel, who also got a wristband Sunday. "For even people who do have health care, they spend $300 a month on basic health care. They have exorbitant co-pays they have to do and they don't even get dental involved."

Last August, Remote Area Medical held a free eight-day clinic at the Forum in Inglewood. They treated more than 6,000 patients, but more had to be turned away. This year, they have expanded by moving to a bigger location and bringing in more doctors, dentists and optometrists so they can treat more people.

The free clinic officially opens Tuesday and closes May 3.


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