For two days in August, a building at State Fair Park will be transformed into a massive doctor's office, complete with doctors from more than 20 states performing free dental, vision and medical care.
Remote Area Medical volunteer corps will offer free dental, vision and some medical care on a first-come, first-served basis Aug. 25-26. The organization expects to serve at least 800 people each day who are uninsured or who cannot pay their insurance deductible.
Remote Area Medical is based in Knoxville, Tenn. It was founded in 1985 to airdrop medical relief to areas of Central and South America, according to its website. In the 1990s, the organization recognized a need for improved health care access in the U.S. and held its first mobile expedition in Tennessee.
The organization has an affiliate organization based in Oklahoma, which has a long-term plan of expanding its mobile equipment to provide free care around Oklahoma.
Remote Area Medical volunteers will start handing out numbers for the line about 3 a.m. and will open doors at 6 a.m. The event is at the Oklahoma Expo Hall, which is on the north side of the fair park near the Space Tower.
Doctors from about 26 states will volunteer at the event. Dental and vision professionals are still needed as volunteers and can sign up at www.ramok.org/volunteer.
Return visit to area
An estimated 624,480 people are uninsured in Oklahoma. At the last event, Remote Area Medical volunteers provided free care to about 1,600 people. They expect to serve a similar number of people at this year's event.
Tres Savage, the Remote Area Medical Oklahoma president, said he knows the event will only help a small percentage of uninsured Oklahomans.
“That's part of the issue that people need to realize, and I invite stakeholders of the business, political and faith community to come out and witness that there are going to be 800 people there waiting in line to get access to care, and that is the tip of the iceberg,” Savage said.
People who attend the event and need follow-up care will have an option of setting up an appointment at Variety Care.
Variety Care provides access to affordable health care services for all ages, regardless of medical history, immigration status or insurance coverage.
Usually it takes two weeks to get a new patient appointment at Variety Care. However, the community health center has arranged for doctors at its centers to keep appointments open up to two weeks after the Remote Area Medical event for attendees who need a follow-up visit.