SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE
You may remember Stan Brock as the animal wrangler and co-host of the popular TV wildlife series, Wild Kingdom. Since then, Brock has founded the internationally acclaimed medical services organization called Remote Area Medical, or RAM.
The organization depends on donations and the work of thousands of volunteer health care professionals who come from around the world to provide free health care services. During temporary medical centers set up in states including California, Kentucky and Tennessee, they’ve served thousands of people.
Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey, a nonprofit in rural northern Nevada, hoped to bring RAM to their region but quickly discovered that Nevada is among the states that do not permit licensed medical professionals from other states to work on a temporary volunteer basis at free clinics. Undeterred, coalition members decided to create a similar event with licensed Nevada health care providers and volunteers for an event unlike any other ever offered in the U.S. They call their event the Medical Outreach Response Event, or MORE, and invited uninsured people from the Lyon, Storey and Mineral regions to sign up for services.
Stacey Belt of Carson City Health and Human Services and Western Medical Reserve Corps, agencies that have provided the medical systems and logistics expertise for the MORE event, noted, “what we’re doing with this event is rare and the first in the nation. We’re stepping up and doing this as a community, doing this with our hearts, but with an organizational structure that is rigid to assure safety and to capture data with the goal of making long-term improvements. Sadly, our hearts cannot fix the widespread need for affordable and accessible healthcare in our rural counties. This is a Band-Aid, and what we need is a system that works. This event will demonstrate to our elected officials the need to address these very real gaps in rural health care. ”
Event will bring lasting results
The coalition’s event differs from RAM events in that patients will receive medical systems counseling to make sure that they are connected to any benefits they qualify for, such as Veterans Administration benefits, Nevada Check-Up, Medicare, mental health care, prescription drug reduced-cost plans, affordable health plans like Access to Healthcare Network, pre-existing conditions insurance, etc.
In addition, because most of the medical professionals at the MORE event are from the region, many patients will receive vouchers for follow up dental, medical and mental health care.
Coalition staff observes RAM event
When Brock heard that Healthy Communities Coalition had been inspired by RAM’s work to set up a similar event for uninsured residents, he was interested to learn how the coalition members were organizing their event and was also eager to share his organization’s knowledge about organizing similar events. The RAM group offered technical advice to the coalition throughout their planning phase and then invited key coalition staff to observe a RAM clinic in action. Healthy Communities staff including Christy McGill, Freida Carbery and Wendy Madson met with Brock last weekend and were able to get a behind the scenes tour of a RAM event in Sacramento.
Why this event is needed
Christy McGill, director for Healthy Communities Coalition, said “People have been asking why we’re doing this. My answer is that over 10,000 people in the Lyon and Storey region alone are completely uninsured, and many more have no dental or vision insurance. Volunteers from all over Nevada are working at this event because every member of our rural Nevada family deserves basic healthcare. We’re doing this because we can, because we should, because our neighbors and our families are valuable to this great state.”
What, when and where
MORE will include free dental, mental health and medical care, and Lions Club vision screening and glasses, to uninsured residents of Lyon, Storey and Mineral counties who signed up before March 23. Wendy Madson of Healthy Communities, who has been organizing the dental services section of the event, explained that 25 dentists from Nevada are volunteering their services, and a group called Las Vegas On-Site Dental will provide a 53-foot, eight-chair mobile unit that is essential to all of the dental services being provided.
The MORE event will also provide free vaccines, a wound-care clinic by Carson Tahoe Wound Care Clinic and health information to uninsured “walk-ins” from the three-county region who did not sign up.
The event will be held at the Silver Stage High School in Silver Springs on Friday, April 13, from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday, April 14, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Organizers say they expect over 600 people during the event and are grateful for the schools’ generous offer to use their facilities for the event.