Free medical clinic gives care to thousands

LOS ANGELES "I haven't worked in about two years," said Jimmy Peters, a construction worker.

Peters is a construction engineer who used to make $30 an hour. He was scrambling to get free medical and dental care on Monday.

"Things were awesome until the economy went bad," said Peters. "It pretty much stopped for me."

"With this current economic crisis the fact is we have all walks of life here. We have had attorneys, stock brokers, or the mom who is divorced and doesn't have anybody to help her," said Dr. Natalie Nevins, medical director. "We also have seen people who have three jobs, but have no insurance. This is our opportunity to take care of our community."

Even volunteers with the seven day free health care event don't have insurance themselves.

"It doesn't fee to good when you live in a country and you can't get medical or dental service," said Belinda Carson, RAM volunteer.

The final day of Remote Area Medical's mission to Los Angeles was filled with taking care of overflow patients and following up with those who needed extra services.

Organizers estimate that they will provide free dental, medical and vision care to nearly 7,000 people when the event wraps on Monday. The focus this year is to find continuing care for all of the patients.

RAM is working with over 150 local clinics that can provide free or low-cost services on a sliding scale.

"It has to have follow-up care," said Nevins.

Electronic medical records will make following-up an easier task. Charts can be stored in e-mail to local providers.

This year's event was one day shorter than the last one, and organizers expect they'll serve more. It will be a huge task to figure out how to improve on a future L.A. event.

Volunteers understand that the need for health care will not go away.

"I am in this position and I do not think I am the only one," said Peters.

Patients say that they are grateful for everything that has been provided.

"Thank you to everybody who made this happen. There is a great need for it," said Randy Gardner, a patient.

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