LOCAL DOCTORS STEP IN TO HELP REMOTE AREA MEDICAL HEALTH EXPEDITION IN A BIG WAY
September 27, 2007 - Harrogate, Tennessee, October 1, 2007—As volunteers worked on a recent September afternoon to unload dental chairs and optical exam equipment into the Tex Turner Arena on the Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) campus, the line began forming for the second annual Remote Area Medical Health Expedition at the University. By 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning when the doors officially opened, RAM personnel counted over 400 people in the line for services.
During the two-day expedition at LMU, 687 patients received a range of free health care. These patients accounted for a total of 871 patient contacts in the medical, dental, and optical areas, as patients were able to receive services in all three clinic areas if they so desired. When the number of lab tests conducted for these patients is taken into account, total patient contacts numbered 1,061 encounters. The final tally on the dollar amount of these 1,061 patient contacts is an estimated $126,890.00 in free medical services rendered. Of the 687 patients served by the RAM clinic, 434 live in the immediate tri-state region of Claiborne County, Tennessee, Bell County, Kentucky, and Lee County, Virginia.
During the 2006 RAM expedition at LMU, the volunteer physicians found themselves with time on their hands. Because the majority of RAM patients typically turn out to receive free dental or optical treatment, the medical area of the clinic can often be a bit of a ghost town. In fact, last year many of the osteopathic physicians on faculty at LMU’s new DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) who volunteered for the RAM expedition found themselves called upon to provide osteopathic manipulative treatments to the busy dentists who worked for hours with no breaks. Not so with this year’s expedition.
“By noon on Saturday, I had seen more patients than I treated the entire weekend last year,” said Dr. Ray Stowers, vice president and dean of LMU-DCOM. “In total we treated 100 more patients in the medical area than we did last year, and I am very proud that the patients were able to take advantage of the opportunity.” Stowers, an osteopathic family physician, and his wife Peggy, a registered nurse, volunteered throughout the 2-day clinic. Both private physicians and members of the clinical medicine faculty of LMU-DCOM volunteered at the expedition.
In addition, approximately 60 first-year medical students at LMU-DCOM volunteered in all areas of the clinic, including the vet tech area. “Our osteopathic medical students got a wonderful opportunity to put our mission of ‘service to humanity’ into action at this year’s RAM expedition,” Stowers said. “Next year that involvement will expand even further as our students will have the clinical training necessary to assist the physicians as needed.”
The dental area was the busiest area of the expedition at LMU, seeing 10 children and 329 adults over the course of the weekend. The volunteer dentists administered 36 dental cleanings, 119 dental fillings, and 411 dental extractions. In fact, the dental area had a unique problem not often found during these expeditions: more dentists than dental chairs. Local dentist Dr. Charles Tompkins of Harrogate graciously opened his private office, located across the street from LMU, and dental patients were transported by van over to Tompkins’ office in order to receive care.
“We are very fortunate to have RAM come to the tri-state area and to have the tremendous resources of LMU available for this project,” said Dr. Tompkins. “I was so blessed by being able to be a small part of something that has helped so many people.”
David Gates, a first-year osteopathic medical student from Riverside, Illinois, showed up for his volunteer shift at lunchtime on Sunday and was immediately sent to assist in the dental area. “It was a pleasure to volunteer for the Remote Area Medical at LMU,” Gates said. “I was extremely impressed by how much RAM, LMU and the community were able to accomplish in only two days.”
Overall, 341 people traveled from across the United States to volunteer at the expedition, including many LMU faculty, staff and students.
Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or e-mail at email@example.com.
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