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Smyth County hosts RAM Clinic this weekend

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SMYTH COUNTY, Va. - A Remote Area Medical clinic opens this weekend in Smyth County. It will offer an array of free health care services. The community coordinator for the RAM clinic says there is a critical need for access to health care in Smyth County and the surrounding area. "The biggest one is dental. Folks may have insurance that cover some of the medical issues, but very few have dental coverage, so we have a lot of folks that come just mainly for the dental," Coordinator Harry Howe said. Vision care is also in dire need. This is the second year Smyth County has hosted a RAM clinic. Last year's clinic served almost 900 people. Howe said, "For a lot of folks, they just don't have access to some of the resources that they get while they're at this clinic or whichever clinic they go to." It will take about 600 volunteers to run the clinic for three days and a number of community partners. One of those is Emory & Henry's College of Health Sciences. The entire staff of the physician's assistant program will now volunteer for the clinic. "The whole idea for the School of Health Sciences was to meet the needs of the region for medical care that was not being provided," Chair of the Physician Assistant program Scott Richard said. Part of the initiative in Smyth County is making sure patients are not just served once a year, but knowing they are connected with on-going free clinics. One of those is the Mel Leaman Free Clinic available on Emory & Henry's Marion campus. "We see that we're packed with patients who are uninsured, and when we have RAMs, we see how many hundreds and hundreds of patients have no insurance or are underinsured so they need it," Richards said. The RAM event runs Friday through Sunday, starting each day at 6 a.m. Organizers tell News 5 numbers will be given out starting at 3 a.m. It is being held at the Mountain Empire Airport.

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