For some, a free pair of glasses means seeing a grandchild’s face for the first time.
Or it can mean having a driver’s license reinstated, which leads to a better job.
These are the types of stories Tres Savage has heard over the years at the annual free medical care event sponsored by Remote Area Medical Oklahoma.
“For the 1,500 or 1,600 people that we’ll probably see, this event will provide them with life-changing care,” said Savage, executive director of RAM Oklahoma. “For some, that will be being relieved from excruciating dental pain or having a tooth filled ... For others, it will be a new pair of glasses made on site.”
RAM Oklahoma will host this year’s event Aug. 16 and 17 at State Fair Park and is seeking dental and eye professionals, including dentists and optometrists, who will volunteer their time to serve hundreds of fellow Oklahomans.
RAM will bring its 50 mobile dental chairs and one of its mobile vision laboratories, plus other equipment, to make the event happen, Savage said.
At the event, patients can receive dental care, including cleanings, fillings or extractions. Vision services will include eye exams and a pair of glasses made on site, if prescribed. A limited number of mammograms and pap tests will be offered to women. General physicians will conduct physicals and run a limited number of lab tests, Savage said.
He said volunteers will give out numbers about 4 a.m. both days, and patients should enter the fairgrounds on the north side near 89er Drive. Hundreds of people will wait for hours before 4 a.m. to receive care.
Patients are not charged and are seen on a first-come, first-served basis, regardless of income or immigration status. However, they will have the opportunity to be screened for Medicaid eligibility, which could help meet their future health care needs, Savage said.
He said seeing the hundreds of people who come to the event is a powerful image and important reminder.
“It’s important for people to have a sense that these are our neighbors,” Savage said. “These are the people who make food for us at restaurants. These are folks who have been affected by an economic downtown. These are folks, in a lot of instances, who are struggling to make ends meet. I think it’s important for politicians to remember that they represent these people, too.”
How to help
Dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants, optometirst, opthamologists and opticians can sign up to volunteer at the RAM Oklahoma event via www.ramok.org/volunteer. The event is scheduled for Aug. 16 and 17 in Oklahoma City.