Flying High since 1998.

RAM tops its own record in 2005, 2006, and 2007

See My Day at the 2008 Remote Area Medical (RAM).

"I work about eighty hours as a week cook/waitress standing on my feet", says Brenda Powers. She can't afford dental work even though she works two jobs. Her five hundred dollar a month medical insurance doesn't include dental. A few miles away at Wise Airport, millions are plowed into empty shell buildings and to subsidize Sykes Communications. She is typical of the region's workforce.

About 4500 people received 8500 free medical/dental procedures this year as Remote Area Medical (RAM) topped its own record, set here last year. And the year before, and the year before that, etc. The organization's doctors and nurses saw 6,397 people during the three-day event, topping last year's total by about 350 patients.

The clinic provided more than $1 million worth of medical care. This year's visit was Remote Area Medical's sixth to Wise County. Nearly 1,000 volunteer medical and general volunteers kept the process moving smoothly.

Remote Area Medical, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based world health care organization, provides services to those who have no health insurance, no jobs or cannot afford care. Volunteers and those seeking care converge on the Virginia-Kentucky District Fairgrounds in July each year. Thousands line up early each morning, and some spend the night in their cars.

This used to be located at the Wise Airport that received $2 million in pork dollars, which also borders their multi-million dollar new industrial park where Sykes is located. As I was told, RAM was an embarrassment and were told to move. This is the sixth consecutive poverty record in a place they spend millions on economic development.

Poverty, Remote Area Medical (RAM), and Tourism Hype

Visiting Wise, John Edwards calls health care access in U.S. 'shameful'

Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards called for universal health care during a Wednesday visit to the Wise County site of this weekend's Rural Area Medical Health Expedition...Edwards said. "How can we live with this in America? This is not OK."

Wednesday's discussion was "not just to identify the challenges" of health care access issues, Edwards said. "The challenges do not define the people of this area," he said, rather rural Americans define themselves with their resilience, work and moral ethic, and courage. St. Mary's Health Wagon Director Teresa Gardner told Edwards and the national media in attendance at the event that "we are a proud people (who) take ownership of our problems."

She said the region has "our share" of socio-economic and other problems, "but we feel the larger problem is a national problem" regarding access to affordable healthcare. Two-thirds of the people who avail themselves of free health services at the annual RAM event have jobs but no health insurance...60 percent come from places other than Wise County, including other states like Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and the Carolinas. Ref. 07/18/2007 Kingsport Times-News extract.

Edwards fails to address that the millions spent on social programs that was supposed to fix these problems have failed. These people are flocking to RAM from across the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) region because the billions spent on government programs have failed.

"The most corrupt region is Southwest Virginia...more indictments for political and public office corruption have happened in this region than all other parts of the state combined."

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Governmental Studies

Update: Tourism board suspends executive director

Remote Area Medical (RAM) in Buchanan County

The Remote Area Medical (RAM) free clinic will be at Riverview Middle School in October 13-14 of 2007. Spokespersons for Appalachian Family Care that operates in the defunct Vansant Food City store, said surrounding areas lack good access to basic medical, vision and dental care. This is a satellite operation of the larger RAM in Wise, Virginia. They serve about 1,000 patients and is in its 5th year, and to quote, "shows no signs of slowing down." This event is paid for by grants. ($25,000) They started with 766 patients and $88,000 in health care, last year it was $315,000.

While all of this was going on, they spent about $200 million to "revitalize" Grundy, Virginia (the county seat) and might get a Wal-Mart.

The County (Buchanan) is funding hotel rooms and food for the volunteer medical staff that visit from outside the area for the day and a half event. "Virginia Commonwealth University's dental school provides dental services, and the University of Virginia's health care system helps with medical care" along with help from University of Appalachia's School of Pharmacy, the Appalachian School of Law and from nursing students at Southwest Virginia Community College. For more information, call (276) 935-6508.

Ref. Grundy clinic prepares to serve long lines of people seeking medical, vision and dental care by Kathy Still September 30, 2007 Bristol Herald Courier.

Remote Area Medical (RAM) Health Expedition heading back to Wise County

For one weekend every summer for the last eight years, Wise County hosts the largest free health care clinic in the world, counting all those without a roof. Final preparations are under way for the Rural Area Medical (RAM) Health Expedition at the Wise County Fairgrounds July 20-22. Volunteer health professionals from around the country, and particularly Virginia, flock to the fairgrounds to provide free dental, eye and basic medical services to all comers. Last year, more than 1,200 volunteers - roughly 900 of them physicians, dentists, nurses and other health care professionals - provided more than $1.3 million worth of free services during some 8,000 patient encounters, another record.

The annual RAM event in Wise County has set a new patient encounter record every year since it was first offered by the Knoxville-based "Wings of Hope" RAM Volunteer Corps eight years ago. People swarm to the fairgrounds for the three-day event not only from Southwest Virginia but other neighboring states of Appalachia, or even further.

There are two ways of looking at the astonishing record-setting pace of the Wise County event, said RAM founder Stan Brock. More and more people know about it, and get needed medical services, he said. But it's also a sad commentary on the state of health care access in America in general, and the Appalachian region in particular...

As he did last year, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is expected to attend this year's event. Kaine will volunteer in the registration center for a while, but the governor should expect to receive a hearing exam of his own, of the political rather than medical variety. Brock said he will bend Kaine's ear about a way Virginia could make things easier to stage RAM in Wise County. "It would be nice if the legislature in Virginia could make it simpler for (an out-of-state) doctor or dentist to just show up and volunteer," Brock said. "I wish Virginia would look at the Tennessee model, where it is extremely simple. Down there a medical professional shows up with their license and we put them right to work."

Gardner said Virginia requires documentation to go back-and-forth that must be notarized and the works. Impromptu volunteer health professionals are out of the question. She said it takes several weeks' worth of red tape aggravations to get health professionals cleared for the Wise event. If Kaine's ears have a burning sensation, never mind. The governor has a RAM appointment in July, and Brock, a co-star of the fabled TV series "Wild Kingdom" of yesteryear, is not shy about doling out health care access prescriptions to politicians. "Medical professional volunteers come in for this once-a-year large event here in Wise," Brock said. "Virginia should be able to make it easier on them, and us, to do so." Ref. 06/17/2007 Kingsport Times-News extract.

A Southwest Virginia mobile health clinic and several community colleges are affected by state budget cuts Oct 04, 2007 Bristol Herald Courier extract.

St. Mary's Health Wagon, a mobile clinic that delivers health care to needy Southwest Virginians, will lose $5000. This is part of Gov. Tim Kaine's $300 million in budget cuts to cover Virginia's $641 million revenue shortfall. There is no mention of cutting useless pork such as tourism development. The cut is from the $100,000 it gets from the state...The health wagon treats nearly 2,500 regular patients in some of the most remote communities in the coalfield region. Some patients rely on the health wagon for prescription medications. Many cannot travel to the region's hospitals, even if they could afford it, and they wait until the health wagon makes a stop in their communities.

This one of the most cost effective ways to deliver health to the needy, yet it gets cut while tourism pork continues to get funding. For more information or o help see

Local community colleges are also dealing with funding cuts. Southwest Virginia Community College is grappling with a $500,000 well as all of the other community colleges in the Virginia Community College System, were instructed by the chancellor to spend conservatively and carry forward five percent of their budgets in anticipation of a budget shortfall," she said in a written statement. "For Southwest, the amount of the shortfall this year is about $500,000.