Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rural Medical Camp Tackles Health Care Gaps

Betty Lettenberger/NPR

Link gakked from AppyLove, story from NPR.

Think about this story for a moment. Or two. We need new, better, options for health care, and we need them yesterday. And that's probably as political a post as I'll ever consciously make.

It was a Third World scene with an American setting. Hundreds of tired and desperate people crowded around an aid worker with a bullhorn, straining to hear the instructions and worried they might be left out.

Some had arrived at the Wise County Fairgrounds in Wise, Va., two days before. They slept in cars, tents and the beds of pickup trucks, hoping to be among the first in line when the gate opened Friday before dawn. They drove in from 16 states, anxious to relieve pain, diagnose aches and see and hear better.

"I came here because of health care — being able to get things that we can't afford to have ordinarily," explained 52-year-old Otis Reece of Gate City, Va., as he waited in a wheelchair beside his red F-150 pickup. "Being on a fixed income, this is a fantastic situation to have things done we ordinarily would put off."

For the past 10 years, during late weekends in July, the fairgrounds in Wise have been transformed into a mobile and makeshift field hospital providing free care for those in need. Sanitized horse stalls become draped examination rooms. A poultry barn is fixed with optometry equipment. And a vast, open-air pavilion is crammed with dozens of portable dental chairs and lamps.

A converted 18-wheeler with a mobile X-ray room makes chest X-rays possible. Technicians grind hundreds of lenses for new eyeglasses in two massive trailers. At a concession stand, dentures are molded and sculpted.


JulieGengo said...

It's okay to be a little political every once and a while. I'm sure there were some brilliant writters who were taking advantage of this service. Many times the best stories come out of the saddest situations.

Rusty said...

My dad worked an assload of overtime to make sure we all had health coverage. And I was,and remain, accident-prone. I'd have shitty knees, a fucked-up right hand, and little sight in my left eye without that coverage when I was a kid. And that's just the accidents I remember.

Rusty said...

I forgot to say thanks for stopping by, Julie. :-)

JulieGengo said...

You're welcome Rusty. I'm sorry you are so accident prone. I bump into things often accidentally of course. Maybe you will consider being political one more time as Mountain Top Removal has been devastating to the Appalachians and its people. I have found some some writers who write about this. I can pass then along if you like.

Rusty said...

I had a post about that some time back, but I'm not as up on that issue as I am on some others. I know several Appalachian writers who are doing great things and trying hard to make a difference in that vein: Silas House being the first one that comes to mind. I know there are others.