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article imageMedical missionaries bringing health care to U.S. cities

By Kathlyn Stone     Mar 24, 2009 in Health
A non-profit, volunteer organization that leads health care missions to developing countries and depressed rural communities plans to make its first expedition into a major U.S. city this spring.
Remote Area Medical, an all-volunteer non-profit based in Knoxville, TN, has been delivering free medical, dental and vision care to developing countries and depressed rural areas of the United States for 24 years. This May, RAM will launch its first expedition into urban America, beginning in Cleveland, where it plans to treat thousands of uninsured and underinsured people for free. Other medical missions are planned for Los Angeles and other large cities.
While RAM is accustomed to facing physical or geographic challenges while delivering health care in places like Guyana, Guatemala, Honduras and Nepal, the founder says delivering care in the United States poses unique roadblocks.
"We're used to dealing with the challenges of primitive and hostile environments around the world, but our U.S. expeditions face a perhaps more difficult challenge - overcoming legislative barriers," said RAM founder Stan Brock. Some state laws prevent doctors from crossing state lines to deliver care for charitable purposes. Brock said in a statement that he “hopes that the new Obama administration will realize that a huge resource of willing medical volunteers exists in this country and needs to be allowed to cross freely from state to state.”
RAM estimates it has distributed almost $37 million in free health care. The organization receives no government funding but relies on donations from private individuals and foundations. Volunteer doctors, nurses, pilots, veterinarians and support workers volunteer their skills. Medical supplies, medicines, facilities and vehicles are also donated.
Brock was a co-star on "Wild Kingdom," a pioneering nature show that began broadcasting in 1963. Still the showman, Brock will fly RAM's historic C47 cargo plane, believed to have been flown during the Normandy invasion on D-Day, into Cleveland, while other aircraft and trucks arrive with equipment and supplies.
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