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Volunteer healthcare providers needed for medical event

Remote Area Medical returns to MTC in November.

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  • | 7:20 a.m. October 18, 2017
  • East County
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Dr. Vanesa Stillman thought she was ready when a thin man, likely in his mid-50s, sat down at her dental chair during the Remote Area Medical event last year.

But his request took her by surprise, and reminded her of why she was volunteering there as a dentist.

“He sat down and said, ‘I need all my teeth out,’” Stillman recalled.

The man had throat cancer and needed all his 15 teeth pulled first to help avoid complications from surgery and chemotherapy treatments. He had been approved for surgery, but he didn’t have the money needed for teeth extraction.

For that job, Stillman found a volunteer oral surgeon to fill the request, and the moment showed her how valuable rendering her professional services could be.

Remote Area Medical, which provides free mobile clinics that deliver vision, dental and medical services to anyone who does not have access to a doctor, will host its third free clinic Nov. 11-12, at Manatee Technical College, 6305 State Road 70 E., Bradenton.

RAM needs volunteers, particularly physicians, dentists and optometrists. The number of patients served directly correlates with the number of health care providers who volunteer their time and talents.

Over the past two years, the RAM clinic in Bradenton has served more than 2,000 patients, but hundreds were turned away  each year because of a lack of health care providers.

“We’re expecting over 2,000 patients at this year’s clinic, and it is my goal to have enough dental and vision practitioners to treat everyone who comes to us in need,” said Dr. Richard Conard, chairman of the Manatee County RAM Host Committee. “We have put a lot of time and effort into recruiting these folks, and we hope to far exceed the number of professional volunteers we had in past years.”

RAM Vice Co-Chair Lori Dengler of East County said even people who may have some kind of health insurance often do not have vision or dental insurance. “Even Medicare patients who have coverage to get their vision exam may not have the funds to purchase glasses,” she said.

Dengler said each patient can receive two of three services offered. General medical typically accounts for about 400 of 1,000 patient visits, she said.

Stillman said her experience volunteering with RAM the past two years has been invigorating, serving as a time to connect with other health care professionals, to treat patients without the hassle of paperwork or to not worry about staffing issues.

“It’s huge,” Stillman said of being able to help. “(These patients) are not abusing the system. It’s the part of the population group that slips through the cracks. What I do can make a difference.”


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