RAM Dental

Dental students and instructors from a New York university and other dental care volunteers are a vital group of health care providers every year at the Smyth County RAM Clinic.

The fourth was another successful year for the Smyth County RAM Clinic held in mid-May.

With 607 patient visits and 768 patient encounters, the annual event brought free services to local and regional residents in desperate need of medical, dental, vision and hearing care.

According to organizers, there were 174 patients served in medical care, including hearing, 282 received vision care and 312 were given dental care. Sixty hearing aids were provided this year.

“I want to thank all the volunteers on-site and off-site who made this a success,” said the Rev. Harry Howe, coordinator for the RAM Smyth County committee. “We could not do this without the volunteers.”

Volunteers provide free care that is valued at approximately $390,010 or about $510 per patient. Hundreds of volunteers work together each year to put on the clinic and more are always welcome.

Held at Mountain Empire Airport in Groseclose, the three-day clinic provided care for patients and experience for medical students, mainly in the dental area. Dental students and their instructors from the State University of New York returned for the fourth year.

Local oral surgeon Dr. Neil Hollyfield, who oversees the dental part of the RAM Clinic, said these students gain valuable experience not generally available in their area and are invaluable to the local effort to help adults who struggle to obtain care for themselves.

“The backbone of the program is the students,” Hollyfield said. “They need patients. We put patients with students. They get real hands-on experience. We want to do this more often. Even with the clinic in Saltville and other places there is not enough clinical experience in school.”

Patients at the Smyth County RAM Clinic can seek follow-up care at free health care clinics in Marion and Wytheville that partner with RAM Smyth County.

The Remote Area Medical clinic program was established by Stan Brock in 1985 to address the pain and suffering caused by the lack of healthcare in impoverished, underserved and isolated areas and then brought the program to the United States to address the health concerns of impoverished Americans.

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