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Free health clinic LA: Thousands line up for upcoming free health clinic at Sports Arena

September 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Thousands gathered at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on Monday to secure their spots at a free health clinic returning to Southern California this week.

Those outside the arena waited eagerly for wristbands, which are required for attendance and will be handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis while they last. Wristband distribution began at 1 p.m. at the Sports Arena at 3939 S. Figeuroa Ave., Los Angeles. Only one wristband per person was allowed.

Care Harbor, a healthcare nonprofit, will offer medical, dental and vision services to anyone in need of care at the Los Angeles Sports Arena from Thursday, Sept. 27 to Sunday, Sept. 30. The clinic will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Patients were able to specify which of the days they want to attend.

Colleen Romero slept on the sidewalk overnight with her four young children to ensure they will get the medical attention they need. Romero has insurance, but it doesn't cover everything.

"They don't cover glasses, they want me to pay $400 or $500 and that's something I can't afford," she said.

Services include:

- Dental: Cleanings, fillings, extractions and other procedures.

- Vision: Eye and vision exams, prescriptions and eyeglasses.

- Medical: Exams and screenings, immunizations, women's health, acupuncture, chiropractors and other services.

"The big demand is dental," said Care Harbor President Don Manelli. "We're going to have 100 dental chairs on the floor this year, that's 20 percent more than we've ever had."

Though many are thankful for Care Harbor and the free clinic, they are frustrated that getting the care they need is so difficult.

"It's something that we have to constantly be fighting about, especially when it comes to our children. It's not something that we should feel privileged."

Care Harbor will also provide follow-up care for those who need further medical attention beyond the event.

"My belief is that anybody has a right to be healthy. And if there is some way to help people who don't have health care, that's only a good thing," said Manelli.

The nonprofit is also searching for volunteers, both general and medical, to participate for half days or full days.

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