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Healthcare charities strained as crisis worsens

Tough economic times have left many Americans uninsured and unable to pay for basic treatment. Growing numbers of those who rely on free clinics highlights the urgent problems faced by the public health system.

Non-profit volunteer groups like the Remote Area Medical (RAM) Volunteer Corps provide free health care, dental care, eye care and even veterinary services in makeshift clinics, such as in Union County High School in Maynardville, Tennessee.

Lately, however, it is not just the homeless who the volunteers attend to. Stan Brock, founder of RAM, says many social categories are in need of free medical care:

“I can honestly say it is not just the homeless, not just the unemployed, and not just the people at the poverty level. It is people three, four, five hundred percent of the poverty level.”

The main pressure on the free clinics is on the weekends. At 18:00 on a Friday when the medical aid units open, masses of people swarm the premises. Indeed, many of the patients used to be reasonably wealthy citizens, but the economy went down together with their income and health insurance.

One such patient is Jennifer Rogers, who used to run a real estate office before the financial system crashed. She lost her office, and her health insurance, leaving her few options to tackle even basic problems, such as dental fillings.

“This [clinic is] the only thing I can do for dental care,” she told RT.

Several makeshift medical clinics have been set up all across the US, and thousands of people will travel for hundreds of miles just to sign up for the free medical aid provided by RAM.

Regrettably, a visit to one of these health centers is the only way for patients to discover their true health problems.

“We do have people come into [eye exam rooms] with undiagnosed diabetes, cataracts, glaucoma… a variety of different things,” says optometrist Charles Sanders, Jr.

Regardless of the vital treatment available, RAM says it is still not enough to tackle the increasing problem facing a recession-hit America.

“Pretty much everybody that comes in the door really needs to be seeing a medical doctor, whether it’s because of diabetes, or heart disease, or any other number of complaints,” concludes Stan Brock.

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