[imgbelt img=48597415.jpg]

About a week ago, Remote Area Medical set up shop in Norton, Virginia. For two and a half days, 800 doctors, nurses and dentists treated 2,700 uninsured people, most from the hills around that town in southwest Virginia. National Public Radio’s Howard Berkes said the scene hurting and hurt people, of unmet needs, “left me wordless.” 

That was rural America. On Tuesday, the Remote Area Medical team from Knoxville, Tennessee, opened a temporary clinic at the Forum, the old basketball arena in Inglewood, in the Los Angeles arena (photo above). Every day, 750 people have been treated. In the first three days, RAM “provided 1,640 fillings, performed 706 tooth extractions and 141 mammograms and doled out more than 550 eyeglasses,” according to the L.A. Times. Times columnist Steve Lopez talked with the people who came to the makeshift clinic at the Forum and concluded that he was “was witnessing the perfect distillation of an unconscionable societal failure.” 

Rural Virginia or utterly urban California — they are both about the same when it comes to health care. “I don’t have the answers,” a dentist told Lopez, telling him to look into a patient’s mouth. “I’m not a politician. But I have people here with infected teeth, gums, abscesses. I saw a lady bus driver who lost her job and she’s walking around here crying. Her tooth is infected, she’s in pain and she can die from this. This is disastrous. This is a Third World country and people need to come and see this.”

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.