Clarke Residents Support Remote Area Medical in Wise County

Sharon Hart, Maura Rhodes, Michelle Graham, and Greg Hart - Photo courtesy of Sharon Hart

Clarke County Lions, Sharon and Greg Hart attended their 11th Remote Area Medical (RAM) Expedition to Wise County, Virginia on Thursday July 21 through Sunday July 24, 2011. However, on this trip they had additional volunteers accompanying them. After reading an article about the Lions participation in a previous medical expedition to Wise County, Clarke County residents Maura Rhodes and Michelle Graham volunteered to support the medical team’s trip RAM effort this year.

At the event, a full range of medical, dental, vision, and hearing services were offered at no cost to the patients. This inlcuded eye exams with prescription glasses made on-site, dental treatment, and hearing exams. Medical services provided on-site included visits with medical specialists, who offered an array of tests and treatments ranging from EKGs, and diabetes screening to biopsies and minor surgeries. The long list of available services provided an opportunity for many patients to receive multiple medical services at the RAM event.

More than 2,600 individual patients were treated during the event. Of those individuals served, approximately 70% of the patients indicated that dental was their primary health care need. Dental volunteers provided a host of services from teeth cleaning to total and partial extractions.

With so many people seeking treatment, organization was the key to running the event smoothly. As patients arrived at the parking lot, they were given numbers so they could enter in the order they arrived. Lion, Greg Hart worked at the front gate talking with patients who had questions about services that were available, helping to relax those who were anxious about medical appointments, and admitting them based on the number they had received earlier.

Greg Hart at the RAM event - Photo courtesy of Sharon Hart

Greg said, “Our main responsibility was to maintain a calm and friendly atmosphere at the gate, to ensure that patients entered based on their ticket number, were seated in the bleachers in order, and to get them to registration as quickly as possible.”

By 7:00 a.m. on Friday 1,500 medical, dental and vision patients had already been admitted. By noon, all patients had been registered, triaged, and were scheduled to be treated.

In addition to gate duty, the Lions also operated the Clarke County Lions Club Coffee House and Information Booth. Assisted by Winchester Lioness’ Susan Golladay and Shirley Guess and Arlington Host 1st VDG Lion, Emily Carnes, the stand opened every morning at 5 a.m. providing coffee, bottled water, and conversation throughout the day. The group was situated at the point where patients were admitted into the Fair Grounds and helped ease concerns and make everyone feel welcome. Sharon Hart said, “We were the first volunteers to meet and greet the patients and the last to say good bye to them as they exited after their appointments.”

Over the course of the four day event RAM volunteers were forced to deal with many challenges. In spite of hot and muggy weather, afternoon showers, an emergency evacuation due to flash flooding, and a power outage, patients were quickly registered and treated throughout the event. One woman went into labor and the Lions waited with her until she was taken to the hospital. The help even extended beyond medical treatment as volunteers started cars with dead batteries and helped reunite people who were lost at the event.

With over 2600 people receiving help, there were a wealth of stories and memories but one particular story stood out in Sharon Hart’s mind. It occurred on Saturday morning.

A handicapped young man who accompanied his parents broke his glasses in the parking lot. We went to the RAM eye glass making trailer and asked if they could repair his glasses even though he wasn’t a registered patient. They quickly repaired them and placed them back on him. As they did, he flashed the most angelic and appreciative smile that just captured all our hearts. The RAM volunteer then told his Mom and Dad that he really needed a spare pair of glasses and asked to borrow the glasses for a moment so they could read the prescription and make him a second pair. The glasses were returned to the young man and we all wiped away the tears as he smiled once again and so did his parents.

Emily and Sharon with RAM founder Stan Brock - Photo courtesy of Sharon Hart

Remote Area Medical is based in Knoxville, Tennessee and was founded by Stan Brock – remembered by many as the co-star of the television series Wild Kingdom.   The Remote Area Medical Volunteer Corps is a non-profit, volunteer, airborne relief corps dedicated to serving mankind by providing free health care, dental care, eye care, veterinary services, and technical and educational assistance to people in remote areas of the United States and the world.

For additional information please contact Lion Sharon Hart, Secretary, Clarke County Lions Club at s.hart@erols.com or visit the website at www.clarkelions.org