Hundreds of people packed the Carson High School gym Friday in anticipation of the Remote Area Medical group’s free medical services event.
The RAM group, in conjunction with Partnership Carson City, are trying to help Carson City residents who are uninsured or under insured get free dental, vision and other medical services.
“People will be there for the dentist and eye doctor needs because you can’t get your teeth and eyes worked on at the emergency room,” said Stan Brock, president and founder of RAM. “It is a sad state of affairs for under insured Americans who can’t afford healthcare.”
Many healthcare professionals believe not having access to healthcare that provides vision and dental benefits impacts people because it endangers their entire health system and can prevent them from being successful with their job or school.
“We are discovering that a lot of people in Carson City don’t have adequate health insurance and we are seeing that the first things to drop are vision and dental,” said Kathy Bartosz, director of Partnership Carson City. “We have significant numbers that can’t afford it and are going to work when in pain and that impairs their ability to function at peak performance.”
This is the first year this event has been held in Carson, last year, RAM came to Reno. In previous years, Nevada had a law practicing doctors couldn’t cross state lines to provide free services in states where they weren’t licensed and RAM wasn’t able to get enough Nevada doctors to volunteer for the event. Two years ago, the Nevada legislation changed the law to allow out of state practicing doctors to volunteer to provide services.
“The legislature passed the law to allow us to bring volunteer practitioners who were licensed in other states so we could use because we needed to make sure we had sufficient amount of doctors to meet the demands (of these events),” Brock said. “Otherwise without them, we would have disappointed a lot of people because we couldn’t see everyone.”
Brock said RAM came to Carson because there was a clear need here. Nearly 20 dentists and other healthcare professionals were at the event to help treat patients.
“This is a good event for the community to provide healthcare to people who aren’t fully covered,” said Dr. Heather Parsons of Valley Pediatric Dentistry participating in the medical event. “This helps to close the gap and we have a huge need and it is good to give back to those who are in our own backyard.”
Parsons said this is her first year volunteering with RAM, though she wanted to participate in the event in Reno last year. This year, she will be helping provide tooth cleaning, extractions and some restorations.
“I am excited because the more people that show, the more that we can help,” Parsons said. “We’ll take it one tooth at a time.”
The event runs through Sunday and is on a first come first serve basis. Lines to get in start at midnight each day, numbers are given out at 3 a.m. and services start at 6.
RAM recommends patients bring any prescriptions they are currently taking and guardians of minors must be present to give consent for service to children. Patients should also come prepared to stay on-site and bring warm clothing, snacks and water. Portable toilets will be available.
The event is at Carson High School and runs from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday.