HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Facebook: Digby Parton

Twitter:
@digby56
@Gaius_Publius
@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)
@spockosbrain



emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail
Tom:
tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:
Spockosbrain at gmail
tristero:
Richardein at me.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic


Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Sunday, July 24, 2016

 

Just your average field hospital in America

by Tom Sullivan


Patients wait in line for free health care at the Wise County fairgrounds.

Dentists and assistants work with headlamps and floor lights and under a large, open-sided event tent. There are no overhead lights, so lighting is bad. Power cables, air and water hoses snake across the open ground. There is a steady hum of generators and air compressors. A line of patients line up outside a barn for medical check-in. Others sit patiently in the wooden stands of horse arena, waiting for their numbers to be called. This is a county fairgrounds in southwest Virginia. It is the second day of the 17th annual Remote Area Medical (RAM) free clinic in the town of Wise. This is coal country, and the fairgrounds has been converted into a massive MASH unit.


Dentists consult under the big tent.

"Five-fifty and below," a volunteer tells patients as they line up outside the barn. He asks to see their tickets. Over 1,300 got tickets before dawn on Friday. Eight-hundred more on Saturday. These are citizens who have fallen through the cracks of America's for-profit health care system. Obamacare has not reached them. Poor mostly. Out of work. Laid off. Left behind.

At the 2011 clinic, a pregnant woman's water broke. She didn't want to leave and lose her place in line:

An ambulance standing by eventually took her to town in time to have her child in a hospital instead of an animal stall. The child might have been the first ever born at a RAM free clinic. But not without a number, joked one of RAM’s 1,700 volunteers.

Far from Washington’s “debt crisis” abstractions is another crisis, an American reality one cannot describe in words nor experience secondhand.

Stan Brock founded Knoxville-based RAM in 1985 to parachute mobile medical teams into remote areas of third-world countries. Now over 60 percent the patients RAM serves are in rural areas of the United States. Brock himself lives where he stores his supplies, in an old schoolhouse RAM rents from the city of Knoxville for $1 a year. Brock himself is reportedly penniless.
Those old enough might remember Brock from Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom."

Although gas is cheaper, the patient parking lot looks less full that on my previous visits. License tags on cars (some filled with blankets and pillows) were from Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina. (In the past, I've see tags from as far away as Michigan.) Perhaps because with so many volunteers, Friday's efforts had processed many of those who arrived Thursday night to camp out in their cars and tents. The volunteer lot was full and overflowing to the other side of Hurricane Rd.


Wise County Virginia fairgrounds.

Inside the fairgrounds, state medical association trailers provide advanced diagnosis and treatment on site. Most of the treatment here is dental care not covered by most insurance policies (for those who have policies). There are lot of bad teeth here. A line of student volunteers clean and sterilize instruments just outside the big tent. They come from the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, students and staff, and the Virginia Dental Association Mission of Mercy. More church and community groups then one can count are here. The Lions Club makes glasses and provides free meals. Popup tents feature Zika virus prevention, circulation and diabetes checks. There are free books and free clothes. On this weekend in July, everything here is free.


Extractions are commonplace at the Wise clinic.


From minor surgery to dentures and more.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam visited on Friday. I met Derek Kitts there yesterday. Kitts, "a self-described Blue Dog Democrat," is a 24-year army veteran running for Congress in Virginia's 9th District. I met Sen. Tim Kaine at the RAM clinic in 2013. It is an annual pilgrimage for state leaders. McAuliffe was impressed with the efforts of the volunteers:

But I am equally saddened that this clinic is necessary.

For most of the men, women and children who come here each summer, it is the only medical attention they will receive.

They wait a year for the fairground to be transformed into a field hospital.

They line up at midnight.

And the wait is worth it. Indeed, the RAM clinic saves lives every year by providing critical care for high-risk pregnancies, heart attacks and even brain tumors.

Many of the clinic’s patients have jobs, but they earn too much to qualify for our current Medicaid system and too little to qualify for low-cost health insurance on the federal marketplace.

Some are disabled. Some can’t find work.

The tragedy of the RAM clinic is that we have the ability as Virginians to provide these people with high-quality health care year round — if we will accept federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage in our Commonwealth.
Government intransigence is a roadblock for Stan Brock as well. The eighty-ish Brock has a noticeable limp and uses a golf cart to get around the fairgrounds. He would take his health fair to more states, but is based in Tennessee because its reciprocity laws for volunteer medical staff are the most lenient. Thirteen states have changed their laws, Brock says. That allows RAM to set up clinics in their states. Oklahoma works just fine, he said. He has held clinics in Oklahoma City.


Remote Aree Medical (RAM) founder Stan Brock.

RAM held a large clinic in Los Angeles after California adjusted its law, according to Brock. "Arnold signed it", he said meaning Gov. Schwarzenegger. But then someone found a way to "screw it up." Medical boards erected new hoops — acceptance criteria, fingerprints, forms, registration, etc. Only four of his volunteers were willing to jump through all the new hoops. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle in Washington support a more uniform national set of standards for reciprocity, but then again many do not. "States rights," he says.


Brock speaks with some of his patients.

Asked whether the parking lot indicated the crowd was down this year, Brock explained the trick is not to turn anyone away and to make sure they don't have any more than about 200 left to treat on Sunday morning. So far this weekend they have not had to turn anyone away.

Brock had to pause speaking periodically because across the way at Becky's Place, a yellow and white tent from the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation, a guy with a loudspeaker was promoting a cervical cancer informational training about to happen. Come for the drawing, he said. "A $50 gift certificate from Walmart. And couldn't we all use that?" How much medical care could you buy with it?