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Free medical clinic is educating women

April 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's the third day of the free health care clinic put on by the non-profit group Remote Area Medical. In the last two days, volunteer doctors, dentists and nurses have treated 2,260 patients. And they expect to add another thousand to that total by the end of the day.Getting free dental, vision and medical care is a once in a lifetime opportunity for single mother, Rubi Trevino. But she is worried she will not have enough time for everything.

"I haven't seen a doctor in six years," said the Whittier resident. "I didn't even think about getting a Pap smear."

Pap smears and mammograms can save lives. But doctors at Remote Area Medical, the largest free health care event in the nation, are having a hard time convincing women to get them.

"I don't know why. It should probably be up there, huh?" "Those are just my priorities," said Trevino.

Doctors say new recommendations about getting mammograms every other year are causing confusion. And many women are concerned about losing their place in line for dental services.

"You should see when I walk the line and say, 'Are there any women here that are here for women's health?' They give me the confused look, and then I say, 'Pap smears and mammograms.' They really need to do it," said Dr. Natalie Nevins, medical director.

Dr. Nevins hopes the free clinic will help connect women to regular providers.

"People have to understand how important preventative medicine is, but there is really no way for them to know that unless they have been educated on it," said Dr. Nevins.

The staff sends records to local clinics.

"If there is anything serious they will contact you," said Los Angeles resident, Lois Rhodes.

Rhodes, 45, couldn't believe how easy and quick it was to get a cervical check-up.

"This is actually making me more aware of my health and getting me to do things on a more regular basis," said Rhodes.

The free health clinic, which opens at 6 a.m., will run through May 3.


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