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EVMS staff and students volunteer at giant free clinic in southwest Virginia

Story Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2014 08:10:00 CDT

A team of volunteers from EVMS is heading to far southwest Virginia July 17 to lend a hand at one of the nation’s largest mobile free clinics.

The EVMS team – consisting of physicians, other health-care providers and students – joins several hundred other volunteers at the Remote Area Medical (RAM) event, which one weekend each summer transforms the Wise County Fairgrounds into a makeshift hospital.

Residents of the rural community come from hundreds of miles around for the free medical and dental care. Many are without insurance and unable to afford care. Others come to RAM because of the convenience; there are few medical offices in the region. This is the fifth consecutive year the EVMS volunteers have taken part.

Last year, RAM volunteers saw more than 2,000 patients over a three-day weekend, according to Joe Aloi, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine, who served as Medical Director for the entire event in 2013. Once again this year, Dr. Aloi will be joined by Terri Babineau, MD, Director of Service Learning for EVMS; Kim Moloney, Diabetes Nurse Educator with the EVMS Strelitz Diabetes Center, representatives of the EVMS Chapter of the Lions Club, and medical students.

RAM is an exhausting excursion for the EVMS volunteers — with an eight-hour drive each way and 12-hour work days — but so many students want to attend that the school is forced to hold a lottery for the limited spots.

"I'm impressed with the altruistic spirit of our staff and students who, despite the hurdles, eagerly await RAM as a highlight of the year," says Dr. Aloi. "It's a great opportunity for us to help some of the neediest — and most grateful — people we will ever care for."

The outreach is in keeping with the community-minded missions of EVMS, the school's Brock Institute for Community and Global Health and the Strelitz Diabetes Center.

“This is an important event for EVMS and fits our mission to improve the health of people in Virginia,” says Jerry L. Nadler, MD, the Harry H. Mansbach Chair in Internal Medicine and Vice Dean for Research.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is expected to visit RAM this weekend to highlight the plight of the state’s uninsured citizens.


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