LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -With Southwest Louisiana being hit so hard by two hurricanes, you can imagine how much health care needs have increased in the area. Residents got the opportunity to get free medical, dental, and vision care at the Lake Charles Civic Center.
“Is there a need here, absolutely!," said RAM CEO Jeff Eastman. "The clinics may be closed, the building may be uninhabitable. How do we get those services that we need? So, it’s really important and we’re excited to be here to say the very least.”
The demand for healthcare in the Lake Area has increased substantially given the recent storms...
“The clinic is off to a great start. We have about 60 patients inside the vicinity receiving care," said RAM COO Chris Hall.
The Remote Area Medical Clinic has visited Southwest Louisiana before, but protocols were different this time around because of the pandemic and the recent hurricanes.
“We definitely had more patients in the building last year at this time but also we had a whole different process. COVID changed that so we now restrict the access level of patients as they come in and also providers," said Hall.
Hall says they typically host around 70 clinics a year but since the pandemic, they’ve only been able to host about 15. He says it was vital that they return to the Lake Area.
“Covid shut down a lot of dental and vision offices for quite a while this year. On top of that disasters that have closed out some of these practices," Hall said. "The purpose of this is getting to the people that need help that have not been able to get into that care because of whatever reason.”
As for Friday’s clinic, officials said most patients took advantage of dental services but they also say that’s something they see every year. The clinic will take place again tomorrow. Doors open at 6 am. They advise if you are having dental or vision work done that you line up early because those spots will fill up fast.
All RAM services are provided free of charge, and no ID is required. All services are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
Services may include dental cleanings, dental fillings, dental extractions, dental x-rays, eye exams, glaucoma testing, eyeglass prescriptions, eyeglasses made on-site, women’s health exams, flu shots, and general medical exams. Free colon cancer screening test kits will also be available. Due to time constraints, patients should be prepared to choose between dental and vision services. Medical services are offered to every patient attending the clinic.
All patients will be required to wear a face-covering and must undergo a COVID-19 screening before entering the clinic. Guests and family members of patients will not be allowed to enter the building. New airflow, disinfecting processes, and capacity limitations have also been put in place to ensure the safety of patients, staff, and volunteers.
RAM is in need of volunteers in a wide variety of areas. No experience is necessary for general support positions such as check-in. Medical personnel in the vision and dental fields are also needed. For more information about RAM’s mobile clinics, donate, or to volunteer, please visit www.ramusa.org or call 865-579-1530.