The Stan Brock Experience – by Quest Lakes
When I was a kid, Sunday evenings at our house were reserved for popcorn and an episode of the TV series called Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I’d join my siblings and parents in front of the big television in its wooden console, and we’d watch in awe as young, muscular Stan Brock wrangled animals like grizzly bears, anacondas and lions.
That was in the 1970s. Skip forward to 2012, when my co-worker Freida Carbery returned from a visit to California with the remarkable story of an organization called Remote Area Medical (RAM), founded by the very same Stan Brock. Since the 1980s, the organization has brought over 700 temporary clinics to people across the U.S. and the world, delivering quality, free dental, vision, and general medical services to those in need, no identification or registration required.
As the director of Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey’s food pantries in rural Nevada, Freida recognized the need for the kind of help RAM could bring to the residents of the state. She set out to inspire the nonprofit coalition and its community volunteers and federal, state, tribal and local partners to figure out a way to bring RAM to Nevada. Lo-and-behold, by working together with RAM, hundreds of individuals and dozens of groups throughout Nevada solved the complex logistical and state policy barriers preventing RAM from bringing their pop-up clinics to the state. In April of 2014, RAM partnered with volunteers from throughout Nevada and the nation to bring their free pop-up clinics to both Las Vegas and Reno, with community coalitions including Healthy Communities, CARE, and PACT acting as hosts and coordinators for local logistics and local volunteer recruitment.
I served as Healthy Communities’ local media coordinator at the Reno RAM clinic, hustling coverage for the unusual event from TV, radio, newspapers and area officials. In this role, I had the opportunity to observe the overall event, and watched Stan Brock in action. He has remarkable stamina and focus for a man of any age, let alone for a man of 78. He arrived in Reno for the RAM clinic, flying directly from Washington DC where he’d been pleading with legislators, yet again, to take steps to improve Americans’ access to primary health care services. In his legislative testimony, he explained why improving access to primary health care would be an excellent investment on many levels. For instance, the consequence for lack of access to basic health services results in unnecessary illnesses that cause a significant loss of productivity in the U.S. workforce.
Although Stan Brock has spearheaded over 700 RAM clinics in cities throughout the U.S. and remote areas around the world, he still actively participates in each event. In Reno and Vegas, he was there to welcome the long line of patients. At precisely 6am, he opened the doors to the clinic, and hundreds of people streamed in, many of whom had spent chilly nights camping out, often with little more comfort than a donated blanket, hoping for the chance to receive desperately needed services like eye glasses or dental fillings. The remarkable thing was Stan Brock’s reaction to the patients. After more than 700 clinics, he remains visibly moved by the suffering of the patients, and his astonishment that human beings are being allowed to suffer so unnecessarily is unbroken.
Unlike some other celebrities, who merely add their famous names to events or organizations and in reality are not involved in the less than glamorous labor involved, I saw Stan Brock working in the most hum drum tasks at the RAM event for Northern Nevadans, including loading the heavy mobile medical equipment back into the RAM semi truck at the end of three long clinic days. He even attended the volunteer appreciation dinner after the Reno clinic in order to thank and encourage the volunteers, saying, “working with you folks has a been a tremendous joy…We’ve done way over 700 of these events, and everywhere we go, patients are just terrific. And everywhere we go, the volunteers who put on these events for us are wonderful to work with. And you folks are just at the very, very top of the list, and we hope that you will perhaps invite us back again…”
Five days of free services at the RAM clinics in Nevada resulted in dental, vision, general medical, and behavioral health care services for nearly 2,000 people. In Reno alone, the RAM clinic was able to make 400 pairs of prescription eye glasses and to perform over 1,000 dental procedures.
Stan Brock’s life of adventure and service to others has attracted the attention of a team of award-winning film makers. Their documentary feature film “Medicine Man” will follow the unusual life of the British-born Amazonian cowboy who sold everything he owned to create RAM, and to devote his life to bringing accessible free health services to those in need. Now in the final stages of production, the film makers are seeking donations through their Indiegogo campaign in order to finish a few more weeks of filming and subsequent editing. If you’d like to see a preview of the film or would like to help support the completion of this important film about Stan Brock’s life, follow this link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/medicine-man-usa-healthcare-for-all
Miriam Hodgman is originally from San Francisco. She previously was the communications coordinator for the largest hunger-relief organization in Sonoma County, California. She has a bachelor’s degree in American history, with a minor in American Indian studies, from San Francisco State University, and has a master’s degree in public administration from Sonoma State University. She enjoys training a variety of martial arts.