by Courtney Llewellyn
Farmers have a lot on their minds these days, from the day to day care of their animals and property to dealing with catastrophic weather events to fluctuating markets. It could be easy to forget to take care of one person – yourself. A persistent cough, squinting eyes or a toothache could be pushed to back of your mind while other issues pile up.
The non-profit organization Remote Area Medical, or RAM, recognizes that getting to a doctor’s office is often difficult for those who have to work all the time – or don’t have the financial resources to pay for medical treatment. That’s why they’ve made their mission “to prevent pain and alleviate suffering by providing free quality healthcare to those in need.”
“We primarily operate where communities invite us to come in. We strategize with them to bring in two to three days of providing care,” Robert D. Lambert, MS, of RAM explained. “We are very active in Virginia. We have done eight clinics this year and we’re expecting to do 10 next year. There is a big need there. Even with expanded Medicare, there is lots of need for dental and vision care.”
Clinics have been run in Lee County, Smyth County, Emporia and Buena Vista, VA, this year. The biggest clinic RAM has run in Virginia in 2018 was its 19th annual clinic in Wise, VA, in July, at which they served 1,350 people. The number one issue people come in with is dental, according to Lambert, then vision. He said dental work tends to be more expensive and harder to come by than routine medical care.
“We treat lots of farmers. They work with livestock, which involves its own physical risks, plus some work with certain chemicals and spend a lot of time out in the sun. There are a lot of things that could cause issues,” Lambert said. “The biggest thing about healthcare is routine, preventative care. We need to find things and solve them before they get worse. For some, it has been 20 years since they’ve seen a doctor. Instead of hypertension being treated with diet and exercise, it gets so bad they need to go to the emergency room. Masses that have been ignored turn out to be cancerous. It’s so important to have access to medical care.”
The only thing needed by those attending the clinics is a desire to get better. RAM does not ask for insurance or identification or proof of residence. Their goal is to provide help, no matter a person’s circumstances.
RAM has a dedicated staff of 34 but is supported by thousands of volunteers, including doctors and nurses giving back to their communities. Lambert said the organization would not exist without its donors and volunteers.
Stan Brock, founder and president, had the vision for RAM after he suffered an injury while living with the Wapishana Indians in Guyana in South America. His available medical care was a 26-day trek away, as it was for all the isolated tribes in the region. “When I left Guyana, I vowed to find a way to deliver basic medical aid to people in the world’s inaccessible regions,” Brock wrote. “So, in 1985 I established the non-profit Remote Area Medical … RAM is the way I have kept that promise, not only to the Wapishana Indians, but to thousands around the world in similar conditions.”
RAM will be hosting two more clinics this year in Virginia. The first will be in Grundy on Saturday, Oct. 6 and Sunday, Oct. 7 starting at 6 a.m. at Riverview School, 27382 Riverside Dr., Grundy, VA.
The other clinic will be in Gloucester on Saturday, Nov. 3 and Sunday, Nov. 4 starting at 6 a.m. at Ware Academy, 7936 John Clayton Memorial Hwy., Gloucester, VA.
For more information about RAM, or to make a donation, visit