Remote Area Medical will make its sixth return trip to the Pahrump Valley next weekend and all those in the local community and surrounding areas who may be in need of medical services they cannot afford, whether they have insurance or not, are encouraged to mark their calendars and head out for the free medical clinic event.
Set for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 2 and 3 at the Pathways Innovative Education Building, the Pahrump Remote Area Medical Clinic will offer attendees a wide variety of no-charge medical services, with everything from blood pressure readings and women’s health exams to dental procedures and prescription eyeglasses to be provided on site. Those interested in taking advantage of this opportunity will be able to do so with no ID required and the event is open to anyone and everyone.
The Remote Area Medical, or RAM, clinic will kick off in the wee morning hours of Saturday, Oct. 2 with the parking lot opening for those who wish to get into the queue early.
Arriving at the clinic
“It’s going to be kind of a hybrid of the past years that we’ve done,” Pahrump RAM Committee member Ryan Muccio explained for the Pahrump Valley Times.
For the first four years that RAM visited the community, patients were directed to arrive at the clinic and wait in line for ticket distribution, which would occur at 3 a.m. each morning of the clinic. Last year however, with the COVID-19 pandemic causing major concerns all over the country, the decision was made to make the clinic appointment-based.
Under that appointment-based system, patients were asked to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to their appointment and wait in the parking lot until they were notified they could proceed into the building. While RAM has decided to go ahead and ditch the appointment process this year, the concept of patients remaining in their vehicles is being retained.
“The gates will be opening at midnight each night before the clinic and people can arrive earlier than that if they wish, to get in line in advance, but that is when the gates will open,” Muccio detailed. “After the gates are opened, the patients will get registered into our system, get a ticket and be directed to park in their designated parking space to wait until the doors open at 6 a.m. They should bring their own water, food, items like that, but restrooms will be provided.
“Once they are registered and have their ticket, we ask that they stay on site, in their assigned parking space, we don’t want them leaving and trying to come back,” Muccio continued. “Tickets will be provided on a first-come-first-served basis and when the clinic opens in the morning, we’ll start calling patients in, in the order of their tickets. And we’ll be limiting the number of patients in the building at one time, to allow for social distancing but we hope to be able to see at least the same amount of patients as last year, if not more.”
When asking attendees to wait in their cars last year, Muccio said event organizers quickly realized that there was a bit of a problem with this concept, as some people did not have a vehicle to wait in. Those who walked to the clinic or were dropped off had to stand in the parking lot to wait for their turn in the clinic, a process Muccio said he was not very happy with.
“I didn’t love that, it wasn’t very dignified to me,” Muccio said. Contemplating that problem, he then came up with a fairly simple solution. “I asked that this year we put up a nice events tent, the kind with four walls, with socially distanced chairs for those pedestrian patients to be as comfortable as possible,” he detailed.
A bevy of volunteers
As for how the clinic is shaping up in terms of professional medical volunteers, Muccio said things are pretty well set with the exception of vision care providers. “We are down a little bit in our vision providers, so if there are any last-minute optometrists or ophthalmologists who want to join, that would be great,” he noted.
On the dental front, Muccio said this area is going to be well taken care of as a result of a partnership with the University of Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine. “As for dental, we have the UNLV Dental coming back this year and they’ll be here in force. We’ll have between 12 and 14 students per day, plus two professors and an oral surgeon. We’re really excited and grateful to UNLV and we should be able to help quite a bit of dental patients, which, as you know, is always in high demand at RAM. This is a wonderful partnership, we’ve actually got a long-term Memorandum of Understanding signed with UNLV and really, their participation makes or breaks this clinic because without those students and professors, a lot less people would be served,” Muccio stated.
General volunteers are a big part of the annual RAM clinics in Pahrump as well and Muccio added, “We could always use more general volunteers, especially for setup and teardown. Teardown is particularly necessary because by Sunday afternoon, when the clinic is coming to a close, everyone is just exhausted. It would be amazing to have some fresh manpower to come in on Sunday to help us break everything down and clean up afterward.”
There will be no mammograms performed on site this year but Muccio said there will be vouchers given out for anyone interested in receiving one later in the year. “Those vouchers will allow the patient to get a free mammogram, courtesy of Desert View Hospital and Desert Radiology. They can’t use those vouchers in the month of October, because it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and they are always very busy but anytime after October, they are welcome to use that and it’s completely free of charge,” Muccio said.
COVID safety protocols
One of the main points that Muccio said he wanted to emphasize is that the Pahrump RAM Clinic is focused on the safety of both the patients and volunteers.
“It’s going to be very safe,” Muccio stressed. “RAM and the NyE Communities Coalition have very strict COVID protocols that we take very seriously so masks will be required and we will be following social distancing. Spouses or friends of the patients will not be allowed in the clinic and we are doing major sanitizing throughout the event as well.”
COVID-19 vaccinations can be done on site as well and Muccio noted that anyone who is hesitant about getting their shot will have the opportunity to discuss their concerns with the doctors, nurse practitioners and medical providers who will be at the clinic. There will even be an infectious disease doctor that Muccio said is extremely knowledgeable about the virus and the vaccine. Vaccinations are not required for those who attend the event.
After RAM is said and done, the Pahrump committee has also arranged for a follow-up provider to visit town for those who may need to see one following the clinic.
“We’ll be having a follow-up provider two weeks after the event,” he said. “The health district is sending down their mobile medical van with a doctor and some nurses who will be doing follow-up care for anyone who came to RAM and needs that. So if anyone was newly diagnosed with diabetes or high blood pressure or anything like that, and they got put on meds, they can go see the follow-up doctor to make sure the dosing is working out or to get any refills they need, etcetera.
“We usually have Dr. William Craig do the follow-up but he unfortunately passed away,” Muccio continued. “We are heartbroken at his passing and we’ll have a little tribute memorial for him at RAM. He was such a big part of this community, he had so many patients who relied on him. Because we know how hard it is for people to find a doctor here, we’ve decided we’re also going to invite Dr. Craig’s former patients to come out at 7:30 a.m. during the clinic to get refill authorizations if needed, as well as referrals to a new provider. We’re going to have them fast-tracked through the clinic so they don’t have to wait in the parking lot for the refills or referrals. If they want to participate in the other parts of the clinic, though, such as dental or vision, they’ll need to get into the regular queue.”
The Pahrump RAM Clinic is set for Oct. 2 and 3 at Pathways, 2000 S. Mount Charleston Drive.
For more information visit www.RAMUSA.org
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at firstname.lastname@example.org