Third annual event provides nearly 1,000 people with free medical care.
Dr. Gregory Meadows of East County’s Meadows Family Dentistry didn’t need to work Nov. 11, but he did anyway.
This was Meadows’ third year volunteering at Remote Area Medical at Manatee Technical College in Bradenton. He returned this year because the feeling of volunteer work is simply “irreplaceable.”
“It is almost like when your kid gives you a hug for no reason, and you think to yourself, ‘What did I do?’” Meadows said. “Here, you see how many people appreciate what you do for them. Knowing you helped someone can’t be replaced.”
Dr. Ashley Masuga, of InFocus Family Eye Care of Lakewood Ranch, felt a sense of satisfaction after volunteering at RAM.
“It is almost like you get a high when you are done,” Masuga said.
Masuga and her husband, Dr. Brad Masuga, own their own practice. The work she does at RAM is different than the work she performs on a day-to-day basis, she said.
“At the practice you have got to worry about money and flow,” Ashley Masuga said. “Here, you just get to help people see better. It’s addictive, you know?”
Meadows and Masuga were among the doctors, dentists and optometrists to volunteer at the third annual event, which treated 947 people.
Many of the patients began lining up just after midnight to reserve spots in the two-day event. Clinic doors opened at 6 a.m. each day.
“A lot of patients are telling me that they have spent the night in their cars or that they’ve been waiting in line,” Masuga said. “They have been looking forward to this event, they expect it and they need it. They are truly grateful to be here.”
Masuga said she would see approximately 50 patients on Saturday.
“None of us hardly take a break because we want to get to as many people as possible,” Masuga said.
Many of those who came to see her brought along three or four children.
“Their children do not have glasses,” Masuga said. “It feels awesome to be able to get them a prescription to take with them, and their glasses are made the same day.”
Many of those who attended the event hadn’t seen a dentist in years.
“We wanted to show them that we care and that we want to help them,” said Ashley Cestero, Meadows’ dental assistant.
One patient in particular was nervous.
“She reached out to hold my hand during the numbing process,” Cestero said. “If that is what it takes, holding a patient’s hand, to get them to have a pleasant experience, I will do it every time.”
Meadows said it is a matter of giving the patience a boost.
“We are really trying to help them get back to square one as best as we can,” Meadows said. “We have been pretty blessed, so we might as well give back.”