EASTON — A free medical clinic will pop up again at the Washington County Fairgrounds in September, bringing free medical, dental and vision care to anyone who shows up.
Remote Area Medical set up at the fairgrounds in October — the first ever in the area and the second pop-up clinic in the state.
Last year, the clinic saw 200 patients and provided more than $100,000 in free services, including free eyeglasses.
“People are not familiar with RAM in our area so we worked real hard last year and the community came out gangbusters. I mean it was amazing,” said Karen Weinberg, a core volunteer with the community host group.
For more than 35 years, Remote Area Medical has provided free health care services to those in need through the operation of pop-up clinics around the country. RAM’s free clinics deliver free quality services to underserved and uninsured individuals who do not have access to or cannot afford a doctor.
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The clinic will take place from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 17 and from 6 a.m. to noon Sept. 18 at the Washington County Fairgrounds, 391 Old Schuylerville Road.
Patients are encouraged to get in line as early at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 16.
“Part of it is for people that don’t have health insurance,” said Don Franks, the lead volunteer with the community host group, “or they have health insurance and the dental and vision aren’t covered, or their deductible is so large that they can’t go at all.”
The clinic also provides free medical services to farm laborers, some of whom are undocumented.
All services are free. RAM clinics don’t require an ID, proof of income or citizenship. There are no forms to fill out.
“You can come to our clinic with empty pockets,” Weinberg said. “Just show up and we will take care of you.”
The free dental, vision and medical services are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
“It costs about $600 to get a tooth pulled in our area,” Weinberg said. “So if you get three teeth pulled, $1,800 worth of dental care to sit in your car for a few hours, that’s not a bad ratio of time spent to value. Same with glasses. Most glasses these days are hundreds of dollars.”
RAM provides the staff to run the clinic, and 95% of work is performed by local volunteers.
Doctors also volunteer their time and services during the weekend, but RAM is still looking for more local dental and vision care professionals to volunteer on Sept. 17 and 18.
“The medical area is pretty well staffed, but the dental and the vision leave something to be desired,” Franks said.
Any dental or vision professionals can volunteer by calling RAM at 865-579-1530 or go to ramusa.org and click on the link to volunteer. All of the doctors have to be licensed in New York state.
They are also in need of Spanish interpreters.
Many local businesses and individuals provide financial donations and food donations for the event. And local nonprofit services will also attend to provide information to people who attend the clinic. There will also be a free farmers market.
“More than just getting stuff for free,” Weinberg said, “there is this level of kindness that is remarkable.”
Gretta Hochsprung writes features and hometown news. She can be reached at 518-742-3206 or [email protected].