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Photos by Kathryn Ross

More than 20 tents were set up in the Great Valley Central School gym to provide sanitary and individual dental services during the RAM clinic.


By KATHRYN ROSS

BELMONT — By midmorning Saturday things had calmed down somewhat at the Remote Area Medical clinic at Genesee Valley Central School.

Alex Phipps, fundraising specialist, volunteer, and media person with the RAM organization, said it was normal to have things calm down in the late morning.

“We’re the most active in the early morning,” she said. The parking lot opened at midnight and the doors opened at 6 a.m. and hundreds filed in for medical care.

From left are Brielle McInroy of Hornell, Katlynn Palmer of Morrisville and Kerri Potter of Belmont — they were among the more than 70 Alfred State College students who volunteered at the RAM clinic.

The RAM clinic held Saturday and Sunday was a completely volunteer event with medical services students from St. Bonaventure, Alfred State College, the University at Buffalo and Canisius College taking part in the local event, along with their counterparts from Pennsylvania. Retired and active nurses, medical practitioners and doctors also volunteer their time for the clinics, which are scheduled two or three times a week, across the country. The next RAM clinics take pace in Nevada, Virginia, and Tennessee.

At least 200 volunteers are required to put on the clinics, depending on the services being offered. In Belmont, dentistry, optometry, medical exams, and bloodwork were offered. RAM offers a wide variety of medical services.

The person who spearheaded RAM’s two visits to Allegany County — a clinic was also organized in 2021 — is Anne Campbell, the Wellness Director at Genesee Valley.

“I attended a community schools meeting at BOCES a few years ago and learned that St. Bonaventure (University) had hosted a RAM clinic,” she said, “so I started investigating it and found that it would be a good fit here.”

RAMs’ services are free — no insurance is needed and everyone is welcome to attend.

“We are very rural and there is a high need for medical services, especially dental services,” Campbell said. “There is only one dentist in the area who accepts Medicaid. I learned how RAM could fill the gaps in the medical services offered locally.”

As the community host group leader for RAM, Campbell filled out the application, met with officials from the Tennessee-based group and organized the logistics for the two-day clinic. With the help of 75 to 100 local volunteers she assisted the more than 30 RAM volunteers with the nine-hour setting up process in the school’s gym, auditorium, cafeteria, hallways, and other large rooms on the school campus.

More than 20 individual tents were set up in the gym for the dental clinic, The vision exams were held on the auditorium stage with the eyeglass clinic set up in a nearby room. Individuals in most cases received their new glasses within two hours. Medical and phlebotomy clinics were set up in other rooms. There was also a blood collection site for Connect Life.

Several other organizations lined the hallways offering nutritional, diabetic, and legal information. Both ACASA and ACCORD were also on site. At the entrance there was a Covid testing site.

Help also came from area churches and individuals who supplied baked goods and Stearns, L’Italia and the GVCC cafeteria supplied food and beverages.

Phipps said the RAM organization is funded by grants and donations.

Campbell is not yet sure whether she will apply for another RAM clinic in the county and said she will make that decision at a later date.

“We had one here last year, too,” she said. “I’ll look at the statistics from this year before I decide anything. Maybe it is something we can do every two years.”

RAM applications have to be filed a year in advance.

Founded in 1985 by Stan Brock RAM is a major nonprofit organization whose mission is to prevent pain and alleviate suffering by providing free quality health care to underserved, uninsured and underinsured individuals who do not have access to or cannot afford a doctor. Since 1985 RAM has served 888,557 individuals and provided over $181.5 million worth of free care.

The average cost per individual since 2016 has been $93. The value of care per individual since 2016 has been $301. Over 182,192 individuals have volunteered to help at the RAM clinics.