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Free clinic reaches ‘uninsured, underserved’

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The Remote Area Medical clinic at Roswell High School continues today until about noon. Tickets for services, provided on a first-come, first-serve basis, will be provided starting at 3 a.m. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

People in the area needing eyeglasses and basic dental and medical care have an opportunity for free services today, as the Remote Area Medical clinic will continue today at Roswell High School.

For the second year, the Remote Area Medical nonprofit, in conjunction with the New Mexico Mission of Mercy program of the New Mexico Dental Association Foundation, has sponsored the mobile clinic in Roswell.

Dr. Keon Ahghar is the lead dental provider for the Mission of Mercy program in Roswell and for the clinic.

No insurance, money or identification is required for the services. Those include X-rays, cleanings, fillings and extractions for dental care; a general health screening, check-up and basic services for medical care; and free eyeglasses and frames if people have a prescription from within the past two years.

Informational booths about Medicare and smoking cessation, and free flu shots from Blue Cross BlueShield Association also are at the site.

The clinic began at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, and by about 10 a.m., 175 patients already had been registered, according to Sam Beaudry, social media coordinator for RAM, based in Rockford, Tennessee.

On Sunday, the Roswell High parking lot will open just after midnight. People can receive tickets starting at 3 a.m., with care to begin about 5:30 a.m to 6 a.m. People will be seen until about noon. Services are provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Beaudry also said that about 160 volunteers are involved with this year’s clinic in Roswell.

The Roswell clinic, which RAM intends to organize on an annual basis, does have a need for more volunteers, especially optometrists or ophthalmologists. Because such local providers are not available this year, no eye exams can be given and no eyeglass prescriptions can be provided.

“A lot of people do tell us that this is their only way to receive care,” said Beaudry, who added that, in some places where the organization holds clinics, people drive hundreds of miles to see doctors or dentists.

“It is very helpful to people who don’t have insurance,” said Blanca Solano of Dexter, who was waiting Saturday for dental care. She said she also came to the clinic in 2018.

The nonprofit has coordinated clinics in 48 U.S. states and 19 foreign cities since 1985. During the past 34 years, 785,000 people have been served, receiving about $135 million in care.

In 2018, RAM treated 413 people at the Roswell clinic, providing $177,632 in services.

Cities are chosen based on income levels and insurance coverage, and are held only in conjunction with local providers or community organizations willing to help coordinate the clinic.

More information is available by contacting RAM staff at 865-579-1530, info@ramusa.org, or by visiting the organization’s social media sites or website, ramusa.org.