Thousands receive free medical care in Bradenton

- Thousands of people are receiving free medical care during a weekend-long event happening in Bradenton.

Remote Area Medical (RAM), an international health charity, is hosting the free medical clinic on Saturday and Sunday at Manatee Technical College.

More than 700 volunteers devoted more than 30 hours of their time to help with medical, dental and vision care.

"It is a feeling you can't describe," said volunteer Doug Schiller. "Everyone has a smile on their face. There isn't one single complaint - they all do whatever is necessary."

Patients started lining up late Friday evening waiting for eye checkups, glasses, dental checkups, fillings, medical exams and much more. Each one spends about an hour and a half with doctors, specialists and other medical volunteers.

"They are so together in there," said Janice Smith, who had a molar removed. "He gave me the shots and I never felt anything. I never felt him pull the tooth, I never felt any pressure, and I never felt any pain."

RAM expects close to 1,500 people each day to walk through their hallways. That means more than 3,000 people will likely be treated over the two days.

People can come from all over to get medical help. RAM said the event is open to anyone in need.
"We have so many people in this country today that, even though they have some level of insurance, they can't afford the deductible, they can't afford the co-pay.  And that literally takes them outside of the delivery system," said Dr. Richard Conard.

Conard brought RAM to Manatee County and he hopes other cities will follow. This is the first RAM clinic hosted in Florida.

"A lot of the patients we will be seeing here will be so medically underserved," he explained.
Dr. Jose Roque, who works at Manatee Dental, saw firsthand on Saturday that many of the patients are unable to see doctors frequently.

"A lot of these patients have not seen the dentist in a few years," said Dr. Roque. "They are super nervous. You can just see their knuckles blanching because they have their hands close to their chest."

Volunteer doctors said their goal is to have patients who leave feeling healthier and happier.
On Saturday, RAM reached the maximum number of patients prior to noon, but people who were unable to see a doctor said they planned to return on Sunday.

RAM is in need of additional dentists and optometrists to volunteer for the clinic on Sunday. Volunteers just need to show up, and they will be assigned a work station.

Manatee Technical College is located at 6305 S.R. 70 E in Bradenton.

Line tickets will be handed out at 3 a.m. Sunday. The clinic is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
 

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