Remote Areas Medical USA All Volunteer Medical NGO Applies a Band aid on a Billion Dollar Problem in Bradenton -Florida
As countless patients are physically and financially harmed by a ‘health’ care system that is meant to heal them, Remote Area Medical USA served and administered almost a million dollars in free relief to 1000’s of patients by volunteers under the direction of Richard T. Conard, M.D., Stan Brock, Founder of RAMusa, Lori Dengler – Hospice LVN, a robust host committee and a cracker jack team of medical and relief aid volunteers.
Bradenton, FL. Who remembers the iconic Saturday Night Live parody where John Belushi reprises the role of Captain Kirk on the Star Trek Voyager? SNL’s Star Trek tracking system suddenly picks up an unidentified signal from two ‘alien’ NBC Program Executives who walk in and summarily cancel the show, “due to low Nielsen ratings.”
Beluschi’s Captain Kirk and Chevy Chase’s Spock fight the shows doom with intellect and laser to quell their evil menaces in suits and ties. The two intrepid captains insist, “Our mission is to protect and save countless lives and innocents where no man has gone before”. Undeterred the NBC production crew strikes the set, rolls out the walls, shuts down the power and removes Spock’s prosthetic ears.
A similar scene played itself out November 20-22 in the Bradenton Technical Institute in Bradenton, Florida population 50,000 and an alligator toss from Tampa. Remote Area Medical’s all-volunteer free clinic comprised of over 1000 volunteers extended free medical, vision and dental treatments to over 2000 patients. After two intense days of triage to treatment the giving hosts, Chaired by Richard T. Conard , M.D. announced ‘closing time’ until a future clinic planned for next year.
With many physicians and patients alike originating from as far as Texas, Kentucky and New Hampshire the Doctors, Dentists and Vision practitioners frantically continued to administer treatments with their own magic Vulcan touch, as the walls were dismantled around them.
The RAM production crew proceeded to roll up rubber mats, disassemble the pipe and drape, fold up privacy curtains, sterilize the 70,000 pounds of medical tools and pack up $55,000. in sponsored peripherals. “RAM has hosted 700 similar clinics in the past three decades and in Appalachia, Las Vegas to Lesbos, Greece in the last month alone,” “The set up evidenced stealth like precision that would be the envy of most logistical coordinators”, said TJ Brown of Sickle Cell Natural Wellness Group and a media volunteer.
RAM had rolled in with a an eye glass refractor cube truck, a 50,000 watt air and diesel powered power source and a Mac truck laden with a 100 state-of-the-art dental, supplies for triage, chairs to advanced optical testing equipment, basically a self contained hospital. Remote Area Medical’s founder and visionary, Captain Stan Brock in safari flak shirt stood by with a Zen like calm orchestrating the strike of the ‘set’ as he has done over three decades in treacherous destinations as far afield as Nepal, Haiti to New Orleans.
Their pop-up hospital situated in the Manatee Technical Institute campus was disbanded and the RAM crew was set for the overland trek back to headquarters in rural Knoxville, Tennessee.
Over the weekend of November 20 and 21, 1000’s of patients and their families representing a cross section of the local population; from full time Macy’s employees , to multi- generation transient workers and the underserved of every imaginable ethnic and socio economic background were treated with “no questions asked” other than , “where does it hurt?”.
As the chasm between availability and accessibility of primary medical care for all continues to widen; communities are banding together to apply a band aid on the crisis of wealth inequality, economic imbalance that continues to impact 29 million uninsured Americans, “who even with strides in the right direction with ‘Obamacare ‘still hesitate to seek treatments due to deductibles and draconian paperwork,” according to Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Along with global warming, economic imbalances and Wall Street lobbies enabling fraud as a ‘business model’ all strata of American society is impacted by a broken health care system as evidenced last weekend in Bradenton. Among the patients were the indigent and homeless, to the proverbial ‘middle class’ whom continue to shoulder a back breaking tax burden. “We spend far more per capita on ‘health care’ than anyone other country for a system that is susceptible to abuse, inefficient and bloated.
RAMusa-Bradenton Director, Richard Conard, M.D. agreed with career Hospice counselor, Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) and Chairperson Lori Dengler, “Our country’s health care is by far the most expensive in the world. It is in practice a ‘Sick Care System’ said Lori at the conclusion of the intense 2 day RAM gathering. ‘By a wide margin, the biggest threat to our nation’s balance sheet is the skyrocketing cost of health care,” says President Obama. “While Washington takes aim at health-care reform in an attempt to bring costs under control in spite of detractors, let’s face it extending medical coverage to everybody should be an inalienable right,” says Conard.
The ambitious Affordable Care Act and Medicaid ; deregulation of pharmaceutical conglomerates, astronomical insurance premiums for patients and doctors alike, procedure overkill, unnecessary health care services have had an adverse impact what could be a healthy medical care in the United States.
A glut of pervasive direct to consumer advertising , unscrupulous ‘pain’ management outlets and the disproportionate dependency Americans have on a quick fix for whatever ails them has been enhanced and encouraged by the encroachment of direct to consumer drug advertising by Big Pharma. Allison Bergman, Prevention Coordinator of Drug Free Manatee said it best, “when the perception decreases that taking drugs does no harm, abuse of those very same drugs increases”.
To fight the blight of inaccessible medical care; alternatives grass roots relief aid organizations, community driven initiatives and volunteer clinics serve as a beacon of possibility. Remote Area Medical’s pop up medical clinics are underwritten by concerned citizen donations and corporate sponsors and serve as a potent example on how reform can start on a community level.
It was at pre dawn on Friday, November 20 the RAM crew arrived at the gate of the slick steel and glass Manatee Technical Institute. According to their Director of Public Relations and Grants, Maura Howl, “We are in a unique and flexible position to turn our curriculum on a dime to meet the needs and requirements of students and employers throughout the region and beyond. She confirmed their staff was delighted to provide the MTI location for the 2 day syringe and bandage cavalcade. “
The RAM medical equipment and technology was identical to what one would find at Harvard, Stanford and the Mayo Clinic. It took only a few short hours to have the infrastructure in place and a cadre of 700 + medical personnel at the ready to morph into a fully functioning Free Clinic, Medical Hospital, Dental and Vision Lab & treatment center ringed by consulting and educational organizations. Prevention, Education and Treatment was the three pronged song sung at a low hum.
The advancement of literacy among children with gifts of 1000’s of children’s books, experts offering relief for debilitating drug dependencies and the Goodwill proffering employment opportunities were among the verses. All manner of CAREGIVERS including RAM’s recently launched strategic alliance with Dominique and her ‘It’s Hip to Be Fit’ program presented edible field to table demonstrations. Complimentary catering provided by the community spirited Rotary Club, Sicilian Chef Gaetano’s hot from the oven Ortygia ziti pasta and broccoli , Soma’s Garden Fresh Green Salads, Chef Dana’s sumptuous Sugar Cubed chocolate chip cookies and the Salvation Army’s over 2000 snappy frankfurter box lunches kept the crowd of over 5000 sated.
As Dr. John G. Sarris, DMD PA of Delray and Pompano’s Elite Smile Designs said in a short refrain, “the organizational skills of RAM volunteers is nothing short of ‘chill worthy’. An atmosphere of controlled chaos prevailed that could best be likened to the arrival of a block buster movie set was up and running faster than you could say ‘quiet on the set’. With patients arriving from all points of the compass students and interns from Lecom, Florida Institute and the University of Florida, Gainsville provided an estimated 3000 diagnosis and topical to comprehensive treatments with some patients put on high alert to seek additional diagnosis.
Services included all medical disciplines ministering cures for ailments as disparate as pap smears, pre natal advise, diabetes testing and dietary counseling , teeth fillings , extractions , vision care with 1000’s of prescription glasses basically whatever was ailing America’s working to unemployed citizens was addressed and treated.
As a gesture of appreciation for RAM’s emergency RELIEF efforts in their native islands of Chios and Lesbos a contingency of Greeks that included Dr. John G. Sarris, Bryce Castellano an Emergency Technician and the makers of Nayked Botanicals, Vasiliki and Dena Karlin, medical skin specialists traveled from southern Florida to volunteer. They are already exploring the logistics to bring a similar free clinic to the Southland’s tri counties next year.
The genesis of the RAM expedition to Florida spanned a year of navigating the byways of strict medical practice rules and regulations, fundraising and community outreach. “When primary medical care and treatment is out of reach, trained volunteers should be embraced rather than hampered. While RAM’s and Bradenton’s community leaders and resolute staff navigated legislative and bureaucratic labyrinths we stay on point with our core mission, “ confirms Brock. In the last month RAMusa has set up pop up clinics in the Appalachian Mountains , Langly ,West Virginia and Las Vegas Nevada and now Bradenton where just under a million dollar in medical treatments was administered.
Candidate for Bradenton City Commissioner, Corie Holmes stated, “What we see here today is a testament to the resilience of Americans. We have historically picked ourselves up by the Bootstraps and apply corrective measures to grievous problems”. Citizens arrived here injured, battered, and hungry and many formerly middle class are now among the dispossessed where medical costs have all but become prohibitive. Families, the aged and many youth welcomed RAM’s assistance”.
Under the Direction of Richard T. Conard, M.D. and in collaboration with Stan Brock, RAM Founder, the Bradenton Committee successfully navigated in the beauracratic course to allow 400 medical professionals , 30 corporate sponsors , 700 trained volunteers and a press corp headed up by Tampa & Washington DC’s Michael Collins Public Relations and Doug Schiller, Event Coordinator RAM – Florida.
“The spirit of community camaraderie also has a healing effect,” says Oriane Leake, RAM Volunteer Manager. RAM and Bradenton volunteers served as a beacon of civility or to paraphrase the statue of Liberty’s, ‘Give us your tired and those suffering from insomnia, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free of Respiratory problems”.
“Medical based relief organizations and emergency workers should be granted access wherever they are needed,” said Bryce Castellanos , Elite Smile Designs and Emergency Technician.
National Public Radio-Coverage August 2015 http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=431287829&m=431343158
CBS News 60 MINUTES segment RAMUSA http://vimeo.com/753559.
By Cristiane Roget, correspondent PRWorldMedia
Photo Credits : Mike Collins PR Washington DC,Bryce Castellanos-Elite Smile Designs.